STORRS, Conn. -- Buddy Putnam hit a three-run home run in the eighth inning for USF (21-9-1, 4-0 American) to spoil the home opener for the UConn baseball team (18-10, 2-2 American) in a 9-6 setback on Thursday afternoon at J.O. Christian Field. The contest was the first of a three-game conference series.
The late home run off UConn closer Pat Ruotolo came after ace Carson Cross (Brentwood, N.H.) out-dueled USF top starter Jimmy Herget for much of the contest. Cross fired 7.1 innings and allowed three runs, one earned, off four hits with a walk and eight strikeouts. The Huskies chased Herget during a five-run sixth inning, with the Bulls starter lasting 5.2 innings and allowing six runs, all earned, off seven hits with three walks and six strikeouts.
Blake Davey (Newport Beach, Calif.) led the Huskies at the dish in the setback, going 3-for-5 with a double and three RBIs. Joe DeRoche-Duffin (Santa Ana, Calif.) went 2-for-4 and Bryan Daniello (Norwalk, Conn.) notched two hits and drove in a pair.
After a quiet start, the Huskies got on the board in the bottom of the third with an RBI single from Davey. The Bulls responded to level the contest in the next half inning with an unearned run, then went ahead in the top of the sixth after scoring on error.
Down 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth, UConn jumped out to a four-run lead with five runs in the frame. Daniello singled home a run to tie the contest, then scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error. After a bases loaded walk for Bobby Melley (Barnstable, Mass.) made it 4-2, Davey roped a two-run single to left that put the Huskies up four.
Cross gave up a solo home run to Luke Maglich in the top of the seventh, then exited after he retired the leadoff man in the eighth. Ruotolo came on an allowed an RBI single to Luke Borders before Putnam deposited a 1-2 breaking ball over the right field wall to make it 7-6. USF scored two more in the top of the ninth and closer Tommy Peterson stifled the Husky offense over the final two frames to record a six-out save.
The Huskies and Bulls continue their weekend conference series tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m. Due to expected rain in the Storrs area, the contest will be played at the New England Baseball Complex in Northborough, Mass.
Over his last five starts Carson Cross holds a 0.71 ERA with 47 strikeouts in 38.0 innings
Bobby Melley has reached base safely in 21-consecutive contests
The loss for UConn was its first this year when scoring six or more runs
Vinny Siena scored twice but had an 18-game hitting streak snapped