The UConn Huskies baseball team finally got their first home game of the season on Wednesday afternoon after one weekend series was moved to the road and three midweek games were postponed, all due to unplayable field conditions. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best home opener for the Huskies, who fell to the Hartford Hawks 6-4 on the back of a five-run sixth inning.
“Give credit to Hartford, they played a lot better than we did,” head coach Jim Penders said. “We didn’t deserve to win today. We didn’t have our team ready to go, but that’s on me.
UConn started the afternoon strong with a three-hit first inning, earning a run on a Tyler Gnesda base hit to right field that drove in captain Willy Yahn. Ronnie Rossomando started on the mound for the Huskies and initially started well. However, the 6’5” sophomore struggled in the third inning, in which he walked three batters, threw a wild pitch and allowed a run before CJ Dandeneau relieved him of his duties. Dandeneau got out of the jam and pitched through the fifth inning.
Right-handed freshman Jacob Wallace would come into the game for UConn in the sixth with a 3-1 lead, but struggled to put in a good outing. The freshman couldn’t muster an out, allowing four runs (only one earned) on two hits, a walk and an error that put the Huskies down 5-3. Doug Domnarski came on and stopped the bleeding, but the damage was already done.
“We throw a four-pitch walk, our rookie (Wallace) throws a four-pitch walk. He doesn’t handle a PFP ball, a play that’s got to get made and the wheels start coming off,” Penders said. “We walk a guy when we miss a pick-off sign, a verbal. We don’t want to see Erik Ostberg, who’s leading the country in hitting. We got to see him with the bases loaded and we have an 0-2 pitch that gets way too much of the plate for the veteran and then it’s a big inning all of a sudden…and that’s the ball game.”
Penders was concerned of the damage Ostberg could do, and rightly so. The junior catcher was batting .493 going into the game with six home runs, 19 RBI and a .863 slugging percentage and delivered again on Wednesday. Ostberg went 3-4 with two RBI and a walk in the best performance of the afternoon.
However, UConn did show some signs of a rally, including a lead-off solo home run by Yahn in the seventh inning and runners in scoring position in both the eighth and ninth innings, but could not bring home any more runs in a 6-4 defeat to the Hawks.
At the very least, the Huskies managed to get in a home game for the first time this season and got some experience playing in front of their own fans. They hope to have that honor again this weekend in a series against the Memphis Tigers at J.O. Christian Field, weather permitting. The field is at least in better shape than before because of the work the team put in earlier in the week.
"We wanted to do something positive so at least we cleaned up the hill today, because it was going to rain tomorrow and I didn’t want to leave that for Friday,” Penders said. “We did something positive. It wasn’t in between the white lines, but at least we can leave here knowing that’s cleaned up.”