HOUSTON -- The UConn baseball dropped game two of a three-game series at No. 19 Houston by a score of 3-1 on Friday night at Cougar Field. The Huskies fall to 33-22 on the year and 11-12 in the American Athletic Conference with the setback, while the Cougars improve to 38-17 and clinch the regular season league title with a 15-8 league mark.
The Huskies fell behind 3-0 after the fifth inning and rallied for a run in the seventh before they ultimately fell short. The loss marks the first time in three attempts this season that UConn has lost a series against a ranked opponent, winning prior series at No. 23 Kennesaw State and No. 12 UCF.
Joe DeRoche-Duffin (Santa Ana, Calif.) led UConn offensively in the setback, doubling twice and driving in the lone Husky run. Max McDowell (North Huntingdon, Pa.) also had a double and scored a run for the Huskies.
Anthony Kay (Stony Brook, N.Y.) took the ball for UConn and lasted six innings, allowing three runs on six hits with two walks and nine strikeouts. Houston's Kyle Dowdy started opposite Kay and went six-plus, giving up a run on three hits with three walks and four strikeouts.
Both pitchers cruised through the first three innings with a second-inning double from McDowell the only hit in the first frames. The Cougars broke through with one run in the bottom of the fourth; following a one-out single with an RBI triple to take a 1-0 lead.
Houston struck again in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI double before a sacrifice fly gave the Cougars a 3-0 advantage. UConn finally broke through in the top of the seventh when DeRoche-Duffin lined an RBI double down the left field line to plate McDowell, chase Dowdy and cut the lead to 3-1.
Sam Nepiarsky (Orange, Conn.) relieved Kay for the bottom of the seventh and fired a 1-2-3 inning in his first frame of work. After UConn head a leadoff single erased with a double-play ball in the eighth, Nepiarsky tossed another clean frame to keep it a two-run game.
DeRoche-Duffin smacked a one-out double in the top of the ninth, but that was all the Huskies could muster in the final frame as Houston brought on Seth Romero to record the game's final two outs.
The Huskies and Cougars conclude their three-game series tomorrow afternoon with a 2 p.m. (ET) start time in the regular season finale.
Anthony Kay finished with nine strikeouts, one shy of a career high. His 89 strikeouts this season mark the ninth most in a single-season in UConn history
Sam Nepiarsky lowered his ERA to 0.79 on the year with two scoreless innings
UConn falls to 4-4 this year against opponents ranked in the major national polls