Baseball: Huskies look to continue winning ways against UMass

Freshman southpaw Tim Cate tosses a pitch against Houston during a 4-1 victory on Saturday, April 16 at J.O. Christian Field. Cate went 7.0 innings while letting up one run on three hits and six strikeouts. (Zhelun Lang/The Daily Campus)

The UConn baseball team will look to build on a six-game winning streak Tuesday when they battle local rival UMass in Amherst, Mass. The Huskies are riding high after an unlikely sweep of American Athletic Conference power Houston in Storrs this past weekend.

UConn (19-15, 5-3 The American) swept No. 25 Houston at J.O. Christian Field this past weekend, extending a winning streak that also includes victories over Cincinnati, Bryant and Fairfield. The Huskies held the Cougars to just five runs over the course of the three-game series, while providing enough timely hitting to get the job done each day.

“They weren’t comfortable all weekend, and I think that had a lot to do with our pitching,” head coach Jim Penders said after Sunday’s 9-2 win.

The Huskies’ trio of starters – Anthony Kay, Tim Cate and William Montgomerie – gave the team a big boost on the mound, and the bullpen handled their duties capably as well. At the plate, UConn used big hits from Zac Susi, Bobby Melley and Joe DeRoche-Duffin to get ahead on the scoreboard. DeRoche-Duffin hit two home runs during the series, and leads the team with eight long balls.

The sweep improved UConn’s home record to 9-2 this season, but the team won’t return to J.O. Christian Field until May 7. The Huskies will play their next nine games on the road, including conference series at both East Carolina and Memphis.

The Huskies will also play three midweek contests against local rivals, with the first of those coming Tuesday at UMass. The Minutemen (7-17, 2-7 Atlantic 10) are coming off a rough weekend, in which they were swept at home by conference rival Saint Joseph’s, including a 17-7 defeat in Sunday’s finale.

The UMass offense is powered by John Jennings and Dylan Morris, who have racked up 18 and 16 runs batted in, respectively. Jennings is the team’s premier power hitter with five home runs, while also leading the team with a .323 batting average. Mike Hart, Jon Avallone and Brett Evangelista are also important contributors at the plate for the Minutemen.

On the mound, UMass will likely start Casey Aubin, who has made four starts this season. Aubin has an earned run average of 6.55, and has given up six home runs in just 22.0 innings pitched. As a team, the Minutemen have a team earned run average of 4.90, with opponents are hitting .287 at the plate.

UConn has played with their lineup recently, swapping in different hitters depending on the day’s pitcher and giving lesser-used players a chance to perform. Penders indicated after Sunday’s win that the changes may slow down.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Penders said of his current lineup after Sunday’s win. “We don’t have many moves to make, so you’ll probably see something similar against UMass on Tuesday.”

The Huskies will likely send out Ronnie Rossomando to start against UMass, as Rossomando has settled into a midweek role recently. Rossomando has an earned run average of 2.61 in nine appearances (five starts), and allows hitters to hit .248 against him.

UConn and UMass will play Tuesday at Earl Lorden Field in Amherst, Mass. First pitch is scheduled for 3:00 p.m.


Tyler Keating is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at tyler.keating@uconn.edu.