A second consecutive conference series loss is now in the rear-view mirror for the UConn Huskies baseball team, which will begin a five-game home stretch when it takes on the Holy Cross Crusaders at J.O. Christian Field Tuesday at 3 p.m.
UConn and Holy Cross have split the last two meetings, each winning a game on the road. The last time the two teams squared off at J.O. Christian Field, a Willy Yahn two-run home run put UConn up 7-5 in the seventh inning. The Crusaders would make a late rally and score three runs for an 8-7 win. In last year’s matchup, former Huskies’ outfielder Joe DeRoche-Duffin hit two home runs for three RBI as UConn won 5-1 in Worcester to bring UConn’s all-time record against the Crusaders at 43-21-2.
Holy Cross enters the matchup with an 18-21 record (11-5 Patriot League) and will come to Storrs on a bit of a hot streak, having won 12 of their last 16 games. The Crusaders currently sit second place in the Patriot League, two games back of the Navy Midshipmen.
A big part of Holy Cross’s recent success has been the stellar play of senior first baseman Anthony Critelli. Critelli is batting .333 for the year and has a team-leading nine doubles, six home runs and 23 RBI. Freshman outfielder Austin Masel has also been solid at the dish this season, starting every game and batting .310. Masel has also contributed with three home runs and 23 RBI of his own.
On the other hand, the Huskies enter Tuesday’s matchup 22-16 (7-5 the American) for the year and have an excellent 5-1 record at home, with the sole loss coming against the Hartford Hawks on April 5. After a wonderful 6-0 start to conference play that launched UConn into the national rankings, the team has struggled in recent weeks, losing six of their last nine games.
One bright spot for the Huskies over the last week was sophomore outfielder John Toppa, who made the American Athletic Conference weekly Honor Roll. The sophomore has had moderate success this season, batting .271 for the year with five RBI and five doubles. Toppa had a solid weekend at the plate, going 4-11 with one walk and one run scored against the UCF Knights, despite dropping two out of three games in the series.
Sophomore pitcher Ronnie Rossomando is expected to start on the mound for UConn after several good midweek starts over the last few weeks. Rossomando is 2-1 in 14 appearances this year, allowing 26 hits in 28.2 innings and has given up just 12 earned runs. If all goes well on Tuesday afternoon, as it did last week with Rossomando on the bump, the Huskies will be able to use this midweek game to re-focus and get back on the winning track.