Florida has been treating the Huskies well as they had another successful weekend in the sun, beating the University of North Florida three times for a big series win.
It took the first couple of innings for UConn to get started on Friday, falling behind by three runs, but the Huskies had a strong third inning to bring it all back. The Huskies went from being 0-3 to scoring four runs at the top of the third, starting with infielders David Smith, a redshirt sophomore and Zach Bushling, a senior. Smith walked so Bushling could run, and the pair was able to bring the Huskies up 2-3.
A great deal of credit went to graduate transfer Casey Dana for securing the lead that UConn would keep for the rest of the game. Already, the outfielder and first baseman has had an immediate impact on his new team. After fellow graduate transfer Ben Huber, a first baseman and a pitcher, and Erik Stock, senior pitcher and outfielder, each had singles, Dana came out swinging. This generated a double for Dana and two runs, putting the Huskies up 4-3.
Smith continued to contribute to the win with an RBI, his first of his UConn career, which brought the Huskies up to 5-3 at the top of the fourth. The Ospreys would score another run at the bottom to decrease the lead, but the Huskies would get it back come the next inning.
Redshirt sophomore outfielder Kevin Ferrer hit a two-run double, carrying the lead through the fifth inning for a 7-4 score. The eighth inning saw a collection of hits from the Hook C, most notably Stock’s double that generated two runs and sophomore infielder Chris Brown’s RBI for a triple and 11-5 game.
Senior right-handed pitcher Austin Peterson pitched for six innings, and reached his 100th career strikeout on Friday night. Collectively, the UConn pitchers didn’t allow a walk or hit off of a pitch for the first time in about three years.
Saturday’s game saw much of the same energy from Hook C, with the Huskies putting up 11 runs but keeping the Ospreys from scoring any to make it a 11-0, blanking North Florida in what would be the series winner.
It took some time for UConn to warm up again, but when they did, they were scorching hot. The fifth inning brought six runs from 11 batters. Redshirt freshman infielder Bryan Padilla couldn’t have had a better career debut with a two-run single and three hits on the day to kick off the fifth inning run. Smith followed up with his own two-run single to put up a 6-0 lead over the Ospreys.
Stock and Huber, along with freshman catcher and infielder Matt Garbowski chipped in several hits each to push the Huskies to 11 runs.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Pat Gallagher matched his career-high seven shutout innings with nine strikeouts in protecting the Huskies from the mound for their Saturday win.
Sunday brought a tougher time for UConn, but nonetheless the Hook C persevered for a 5-3 to complete the weekend series and earn the sweep over the Ospreys.
Starting off the scoring early was Smith bringing it home after Bushling doubled for an RBI to secure the 1-0 lead at the top of the first. Things quieted down for the second to keep the Huskies in the lead.
They increased it in the third with redshirt junior outfielder T.C. Simmons with an incredible homerun, for a 2-0 score. A tough act to follow, Huber hit a fly ball to advance both Bushling and Smith, bringing Smith home and making it a 3-0 lead.
In the fourth and seventh innings, North Florida scored runs for the first time since Friday and tied the game at the bottom of the seventh. This would continue through the ninth, forcing a 10th inning.
With a Bushling fly ball, Simmons made it to third base and forced Padilla to score and take back the lead. Stock then singled to push Smith to second and initiate Simmons’ run home to call game at 5-3.
Graduate student right-handed pitcher Enzo Stefanoni started on the mound and senior right-handed pitcher Justin Willis finished for the win on Sunday.
UConn will travel back to Florida next weekend for another three-game series against Florida International University in Miami.