Bulls face UConn for first conference road series

USF and UConn will send their aces to the mound Thursday at 3 p.m. for what will likely be a good old-fashioned pitchers’ duel.

USF’s Jimmy Herget and UConn’s Carson Cross are two of the top pitchers in the American Athletic Conference. 

Last week, they opened conference play with stellar performances that landed them both on the AAC Honor Roll. 

Herget (5-1, 2.05 ERA) earned the honor after throwing six shutout innings with 11 strikeouts in USF’s conference-opener against Cincinnati, and Cross (6-1, 1.49 ERA) was named Pitcher of the Week for the second consecutive time after tossing seven shutout innings in UConn’s conference-opener against Tulane. 

Both teams thrived in the opening week of conference play, as the Bulls (20-9-1, 3-0) and Huskies had multiple players on this week’s honor roll.

USF first baseman Buddy Putnam was named the Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball after hitting .438 with four home runs and 10 RBIs, and UConn infielder Vinny Siena was named to the honor roll after batting .500 with two homers and eight RBIs. 

The Huskies (18-9, 2-1) and Bulls are neck-and-neck in the AAC rankings, with UConn having an advantage over USF in many of the categories, including batting average, runs scored, hits, doubles and stolen bases. 

However, USF edges UConn in opposing batting average. Herget and freshman pitcher Joe Cavallaro are first and second in the conference with averages of .170 and .177. Third and fourth are UConn’s Cross and Anthony Kay, who have .178 and .179 opposing batting averages. 

Cross leads the AAC with 65 strikeouts, and Herget and Kay are next in line with 57 and 52 respective strikeouts.

Pitching and defense have helped the Huskies win six of their past seven games. An explosive offense caused most of those wins to be overpowering, as the Huskies outscored their opponents 60-16. 

UConn’s offense has been heavily powered by Siena, who boasts a .395 batting average, the second-highest in the AAC. 

In its most recent outing, UConn rallied from a five-run deficit to edge Boston College 8-7. Siena extended his hitting streak to 18 games when he hit his third homer of the season in the first inning. The junior then drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth. 

The Bulls have won five of their past six, as they come off a 6-3 loss to Stetson. In Tuesday’s game, the Hatters overcame a 3-0 deficit with a five-run fourth inning.

Following Thursday’s matchup, the Bulls will stay in Storrs, Connecticut, to play the Huskies Friday at 3 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m.