MIAMI – UConn baseball ace Carson Cross turned in one of the all-time dominant performances in program history, striking out 15 FIU Panthers in a 4-1 win on Friday night at FIU Baseball Stadium. The Huskies improve to 5-5 on the year with the series-opening victory, while the Panthers drop to 7-6.
Cross (Brentwood, N.H.) gave up a double to FIU’s first batter before he proceeded to retire 27 of the next 29 he faced, including a streak of 18 in a row midway through the contest. The redshirt senior captain went the distance and allowed a run on two hits and no walks to go with his 15 strikeouts, most for any Husky in Jim Penders’ 12-year helm of the program.
UConn’s offense came off a pair of home runs from Max McDowell (North Huntingdon, Pa.) and Vinny Siena (Woodbridge, Conn.), while Jack Sundberg (Mansfield, Conn.) went 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI. Bryan Daniello (Norwalk, Conn.) and Siena joined Sundberg with multi-hit performances.
FIU jumped on the board in the first inning, taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the frame with a leadoff double that came around to score on a sacrifice fly. The Huskies leveled the contest in the next half inning when McDowell made it 1-1 with a solo home run to deep left field.
UConn took the lead for the first time in the top of the third inning, scoring three runs in the frame. After Jon Testani (Monroe, Conn.) drew his first of three walks on the day, he scored the go-ahead run on an RBI triple from Sundberg. A batter later, Siena cracked a two-run blast over the left field wall and the Huskies went on top 4-1.
After FIU’s run in the first, Cross settled into a groove and retired 18 Panthers in a row from the bottom of the first through the bottom of the sixth. After a leadoff single in the seventh broke the streak, Cross struck out the next three batters in the frame.
UConn threatened for insurance runs in the top of the ninth, but FIU worked out of a two-on, one-out jam. After Cross fanned the first two Panthers he faced in the final frame, a runner reached on an error before Cross ended the contest with his 15th punch-out. The UConn ace struck out the side in the sixth, seventh and ninth innings and also had multiple ring-ups in the third and fifth.
The Huskies and Panthers continue their weekend series tomorrow at 6 p.m. Anthony Kay (Stony Brook, N.Y.) is set to take the ball for UConn, looking for its third-straight series victory.
- Carson Cross set a new career-high with 15 strikeouts, besting his previous high of 11 set in his last start on Feb. 27 at Kennesaw State. He also set a new season-best with 9.0 innings pitched
- The 15 Ks are the most for one pitcher in any game since Jim Penders took over as UConn head coach for the 2004 season.
- Cross now has 41 punch-outs against six walks in 26.2 innings this season. Coming into the contest he was 10th nationally in strikeouts
- Vinny Siena’s third inning home run was his first of the year and first since April 12, 2014 at Cincinnati
- Max McDowell went deep in the second inning, his second home run of the year, both coming in UConn’s last three games