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USF Baseball Drops Opener to UConn 11-2

In the opening game of the regular season series finale, USF gets dominated by UConn.

Phoenix Sanders
Phoenix Sanders
Nathan Bond

Here's the bright side: the USF baseball team (23-29, 8-14 American) didn't drop to eighth in the conference standings after getting destroyed 11-2 by Anthony Kay and UConn tonight. And that's about it.

Kay pitched seven strong innings for the Huskies, giving up only four hits, two walks, two runs and striking out seven Bulls, which gave him the UConn career strikeout record (249). Kay's only blemish was a towering two-run homer by freshman Joe Genord in the fourth inning that landed on Elm Drive behind left-center field.

The Huskies (31-22, 12-9 American) drew first blood in the fourth inning when right fielder Joe DeRoche-Duffin hit a three-run home run to right field, his 17th on the year. They added one more run in the inning to take a 4-0 lead. The Bulls answered on Genord's HR to cut the lead in half.

The Bulls offense was stymied by the potential first-round draft pick all night, and outsmarted by Kay in the bottom of the fifth. With USF still down 4-2, third baseman David Villar reached on an error and advanced to second when the errant throw went into the Bulls dugout. Catcher Tyler Dietrich walked to put runners on first and second with no outs. Shortstop Coco Montes tried to put down a bunt to move the runners over, but popped the ball up in front of Kay. Kay smartly let the ball drop, then started a 1-5-6 double play that ruined the USF rally.

UConn then scored three more runs in the 7th inning to push their lead to 7-2 and chase USF starter Phoenix Sanders from the game. He allowed ten hits and seven runs (six earned) while striking out six. Since his eight-inning, 12 strikeout performance against UCF on April 29, Sanders has allowed 16 runs and 29 hits in 17 innings. He's faced some stiff competition in that time, but no one wants to see their ace getting knocked around in his last three starts before the conference tournament.

Head coach Mark Kingston says he hasn't seen anything different with Sanders's approach.

"He just needs to be more consistent," Kingston said. "When he's on top of his game, he can beat anybody. When he elevates the ball, teams tend to hit him. He needs to be more consistent down in the zone."

UConn blew the game open in the 8th inning off Garrett Bye, who allowed four runs on two hits (including a bases-clearing three-run triple), a walk, and two hit batters.

Anticipating bad weather in the evening, first pitch for Friday's game has been moved up from 6:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.