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STORRS, Conn. -- After opening the season with 27 games away from home, the UConn baseball team (18-9, 2-1 American) will return to J.O. Christian Field on Thursday to open a three-game league set with South Florida (20-9-1, 3-0 American). The Huskies and Bulls will square off on April 2 at 3 p.m. before another 3 p.m. start on April 3 and a 1 p.m. first pitch on April 4.
The Huskies won their first conference series last weekend, taking two of three at Tulane. UConn followed that up with an 8-7 victory over Boston College in the midweek, as Jim Penders collected win No. 400 of his head coaching career. The Huskies trailed 6-1 in the bottom of the sixth versus the Eagles but rallied late to go ahead with a Vinny Siena (Woodbridge, Conn.) RBI single in the eighth inning.
Siena leads the Huskies and is first in The American this year with a .395 batting average, coming in at eighth in the country with 47 hits on the year. He is also tops on the squad with 24 RBIs and has clubbed eight doubles, two triples and three home runs. Jack Sundberg (Mansfield, Conn.) has sparked UConn with a .311 average from the leadoff spot and is first on the team with 27 runs scored and 14 stolen bases.
Joe DeRoche-Duffin (Santa Ana, Calif.) has returned from an injury that cost him fourgames and homered in back-to-back contests, giving him five long balls on the year to tie with Max McDowell (North Huntingdon, Pa.) for the most on the squad. Willy Yahn (Sharon, Conn.) is in the midst of a torrid start to his collegiate career, slashing .385/.442/.692 in his first 10 starts. The freshman has added five doubles, two triples, a home run and 14 RBIs since his insertion to the starting lineup on March 18.
On the mound, Carson Cross (Brentwood, N.H.) has led the top of the UConn rotation brilliantly in 2015, leading the nation in wins with sixth and placing second in the country with 65 strikeouts. He is among the national leaders in ERA (1.49), WHIP (0.89) and strikeouts per nine innings (12.10). Anthony Kay (Stony Brook, N.Y.) has been just as good in the Saturday spot of the rotation, coming in at second inThe American with a 1.33 ERA and placing first in the league with a 0.85 WHIP. Jordan Tabakman holds a 2.98 ERA from the Sunday slot, as the Huskies are 11th in the nation with a 2.51 team ERA.
South Florida visits Connecticut this weekend with a 20-9-1 record on the year and a perfect 3-0 mark in The American after sweeping Cincinnati last weekend. USF is led at the dish by Levi Borders, who is tops on the squad with a .324 average and eight doubles. His brother Luke has also doubled eight times and is first on the team with 24 RBIs, while Buddy Putnam paces the Bulls with six home runs and a .579 slugging percentage. On the mound Jimmy Herget leads a tough USF pitching staff with a 5-1 record and a 2.05 ERA, fanning 57 against 18 walks in 44.0 innings pitched. Casey Mulholland is 3-3 with a 2.76 ERA and Ryan Valdes holds a 3-1 record with a 2.14 ERA to round out the weekend rotation. Out of the pen, Michael Farley has been dominant in 13 appearances with a 0.75 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 24 innings, while closer Tommy Peterson is 3-1 with a 1.99 ERA, eight saves and a 33:6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 15 outings.
UConn and USF have squared off 46 times in the past dating back to 1968, with the Bulls up 27-19 in the all-time series. After USF the Huskies host a pair of midweek games on April 6 and 7 against Hartford and Northeastern.