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UConn Baseball's Offense Shines in Win Over USF

Anthony Kay takes the career strikeout record from Matt Barnes and the Husky hitters put up 11 runs to win their seventh straight game.

Nathan Bond

In what was eventually an 11-2 blowout, the biggest moment came in the bottom half of the fifth inning.

The Husky offense had pushed four across in the top of the fourth, three of which were on Joe DeRoche-Duffin's 17th home run of the year. In the bottom half, the Bulls responded in kind with a home run of their own to cut the deficit in half, 4-2.

In the top of the fifth, the UConn offense went down 1-2-3, and the Bulls were threatening in their fifth at-bat. A Willy Yahn throwing error and a walk put runners on first and second with nobody out. The Bulls seemed to have a rally brewing, with the top of the order looming, but a heady play turned the game on its head.

The ninth hitter in the USF lineup, Coco Montes, popped a bunt up. It was not high enough to have the infield fly rule called, but each runner assumed Kay would catch the bunt and take the out, so both were retreating to their bases.

Instead, Kay let the bunt drop and the Huskies were able to retire both runners on base, leaving a runner on first with two outs. With the next batter, Kay would tie Matt Barnes' career strikeout record, a record he would own by the end of his outing. Only one more Bull reached base over the final four frames as UConn cruised to victory.

In the win, the Huskies put up 12 hits, three by Willy Yahn, who had the bases loaded in the eighth and tripled, clearing the bases for his three RBI. Tyler Gnesda went 2-3 with two RBI and a sacrifice bunt, increasing his hit streak to 10 games. Bobby Melley also had a two-hit effort in a game where eight of the nine Huskies approached the plate got a hit and all of whom reached base safely. Nine of the 10 Huskies that appeared offensively scored a run, as well.

Anthony Kay was again dominant, allowing two runs in 7.0 innings of work. He had seven strikeouts against two walks, allowing only four hits. Doug Domnarski and PJ Poulin came in to relieve Kay, each registering a perfect inning of work. The Husky pitching staff retired 13 of the final 14 hitters, the lone batter reaching on a double with two outs in the seventh.

UConn did a much better job than usual of hitting with runners on base. The Huskies had left 7.75 runners on per game in conference play, but on Thursday they went 8-of-18 (.444) with runners on and 6-14 (.429) with runners in scoring position, only stranding five.

The runs came in bunches for UConn. Four in the fourth, three in the seventh and four in the eighth. In the fourth, DeRoche-Duffin homered to bring three home and Gnesda singled with two down to plate John Toppa, who had doubled earlier.

They were held quiet until the seventh, when Zac Susi and Aaron Hill scored on a wall-ball double in right-center by Jack Sundberg. He was brought home on a wild pitch followed by an error by the USF second baseman which allowed Bobby Melley to reach.

In the following frame, Bryan Daniello, who reached on a hit by pitch and added a stolen base, was brought home on one of Gnesda's two hits. Yahn came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs and tripled in the right-center gap, bringing home the last of the UConn runs.

UConn (31-22, 12-9) is still alive for the conference regular season title. They play USF again Friday night, with first pitch at 4 p.m.