The UConn Huskies baseball team has been nothing short of spectacular in recent weeks. Their weekend rotation, the bullpen and some clutch hitting game after game has put the Huskies back on the national map ahead of a midweek road matchup with the Bryant University Bulldogs.
For the first time since 2011, UConn returned to the national rankings Monday morning after moving up to the No. 25 spot. The 2011 season was perhaps the best one in Huskies’ baseball history, when future major leaguers George Springer, Matt Barnes and Nick Ahmed guided UConn to the NCAA Super Regionals for the first time. This season is starting to look similarly promising after the Huskies swept a conference opponent for the second consecutive weekend.
The Huskies (19-10, 6-0 the American) have defeated Bryant in their annual meeting each of the last two years, including a dominant 18-5 win on the road two years ago. If these past few games have been any indication of what the team can do, UConn might run all over the Bulldogs on Tuesday.
If the bats keep coming, so too will the Huskies’ victories. They’ve won eight of their last nine games and scored at least four runs in six of those wins. The fuel to the offense has been provided by captain third basemen Willy Yahn and catcher Zac Susi.
Since returning from an early season hand injury, Yahn has been on fire, batting .313 and delivering 12 RBI with over ten multi-hit games. Susi finished the weekend with a 9-18 performance to go along with one home run, six RBI and a clutch hit to give the Huskies the lead late in Saturday’s game.
“The bats just came around. We’ve been [getting] timely hitting and great team quality at-bats,” star freshman pitcher Mason Feole said after Sunday’s sweep-clinching victory over Memphis.
But it isn’t just the bats that have been the Huskies’ forte this season. The starting rotation has been incredible as well, especially the rookie Feole. He earned his fifth straight victory to start the year with an eight inning shutout of Memphis on Sunday, the first UConn pitcher to start 5-0 since Jordan Tabakman in 2013. Feole’s play in recent weeks has been outstanding for a player of his age, such that he was awarded American Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week.
The Huskies garnered the conference Pitcher of the Week award for the second week in a row after Tim Cate took home the prize last week. Additionally, Susi joined Feole on the honor roll this weekend following his high-level performances at the plate, earning the Player of the Week award. UConn is the only team in the conference to have players earning both the Pitcher and Player of the Week Awards, respectively, in the same week.
On the flip side, Bryant (10-18, 5-1 NEC) has been on a roll as of late, winning seven of their last eight games after starting the season 3-17. Much of their offense can be attributed to the bats of Mickey Gaspar and Jimmy Titus. Gaspar leads the team with four home runs and 20 RBI and is batting .305 after 27 games played. Titus, a freshman from nearby Stafford, Connecticut, doesn’t have the best batting average at .218. However, Titus is tied for second on the team with three home runs and is second in RBI with 18 on the season.
It remains to be seen who Coach Penders will select to start the game, but, if recent midweek matchups are any indication, it will be Ronnie Rossomando. Nevertheless, Penders usually takes a committee approach during midweek games, so if he can find the right committee on the mound to limit the impact of Gaspar and Titus on the plate, then the Huskies should be in business and come home with another win.