Over the weekend, UConn’s baseball team improved to 6-6 after winning two out of three against Florida International. Victories on Friday and Saturday got the Huskies over .500 for the first time this season before falling Sunday afternoon.
Across all three games, UConn continued to get strong starting pitching. The Huskies took the series opener 4-1. Ace Carson Cross had one of the most dominant outings in program history. The redshirt senior captain threw a complete game, scattering two hits while striking out 15. At one point, Cross retired 18 consecutive FIU batters. The 15 strikeouts are the most by any pitcher in Jim Penders’ 12 years as head coach. Cross gave up a first inning run, but from then on he was completely untouchable. It has been a sensational start to the season; he had set his previous career high in strikeouts in his start against Kennesaw State. Entering the weekend, Cross was 11th in the nation in strikeouts, and surely has climbed higher following his outing. Offensively, UConn got home runs from Max McDowell and Vinny Siena. It was McDowell’s second of the season and Siena’s first.
On Saturday, the Huskies were in search of clinching the team’s third consecutive series win. A 155-minute rain delay postponed the action, but when play began, UConn picked up right where they left off Friday. UConn’s bats were alive right from the start, scoring one run in five of the first six innings of the game. McDowell stayed hot, with two hits and two RBIs. Jack Sundberg added an RBI and three stolen bases. It was his 11th multi-steal game in his UConn career. Bobby Melley and Jon Testani each had one RBI as well. UConn handed the ball to Anthony Kay and he turned in another solid outing. He went six innings, giving up just three runs (two earned) on six hits. He struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter. It was a welcome sight for UConn’s bullpen to combine for three shutout innings in relief. Devin Over and Nico Darra got five consecutive batters out before handing the ball to Patrick Ruotolo for a four-out save. It was his first save of the season. Kay improved to 2-1 on the season with the 5-3 victory.
At 6-5 on the season, UConn was looking to complete a clean sweep of the weekend. However, their late comeback attempt fell short as they lost 7-5 on Sunday afternoon. Senior Jordan Tabkaman labored over five innings of work, allowing four runs on six hits and three walks. FIU’s Chris Mourelle, meanwhile, stymied UConn’s offense. Mourelle went 7.2 innings, allowing two runs on five hits. However, as the game carried on, the Huskies began to chip away. Aaron Hill smacked his first career homerun in the 8th inning. A two run bomb, the homer cut the lead to 6-2. Vinny Siena knocked in two with a double in the ninth, but that was as far as the comeback would go. Bobby Melley stepped up to the plate as the tying run and hit a ball in the gap that was run down by FIU’s Evan Holland to seal the game away.
At 6-6, the Huskies will return to Connecticut for their first taste of Northeast baseball in 2015. They will take on Sacred Heart Tuesday March 10 at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard for an interstate clash.