The UConn baseball team started the new season in unfamiliar territory. The Huskies started 2018 with a three-game weekend slate in Georgia as part of the Atlanta Challenge with games against Kennesaw State, Georgia State and Georgia Tech.
On Friday, Keenesaw State won 7-3 on the back of two-RBI games from Jake Franklin and Terrance Norman.
However, it only took UConn six innings to accomplish something they didn’t do all of last season. Three different Huskies – Conor Moriarty, Troy Stefanski and Isaac Feldstein – all cleared the fence on Friday. UConn went all of last season without a game with three home runs. Unfortunately for the Huskies, all three came without any men on base.
When the Huskies did have men on base, they had a hard time bringing them home, leaving 10 runners stranded on base.
Starter Tim Cate went 5.2 innings, allowing six hits and five runs. Stefanski recorded his second career three-hit game.
The Huskies bounced back on Saturday against Georgia State. They earned their first win of 2018 on Saturday off an explosive offensive performance from their bats and a tremendous outing from their starting pitcher on the bump.
American Athletic Conference Rookie Pitcher of the Year Mason Feole spun four perfect innings to begin his sophomore campaign. After a walk and a Kendell Ford double knocked in a run for the Panthers in the fifth inning, Feole settled down to finish with a line of seven innings pitched, seven K’s and three walks.
Feole could have spotted the Panthers a couple runs to keep it interesting but UConn’s offense broke the game wide open. The Huskies knocked around the Panthers’ pitching for 15 hits and 10 runs. Right fielder Isaac Feldstein and catcher Thad Phillips paced the Huskies with two RBI’s each in the 10-1 win.
The Huskies rounded out the Atlanta Challenge with Georgia Tech on Sunday.
Six different huskies scored seven runs in the first three innings to build up a sizable lead early.
Georgia Tech made up a lot of ground in the bottom of the fifth off bases clearing three-run triple courtesy of infielder Wade Bailey. Austin Wilhite brought Bailey home on a groundout to make it 7-5 to end the fifth.
The Yellow Jackets completed the comeback with a two-run eight inning, on which the tying run came after UConn’s PJ Poulin hit Nick Wilhite with a pitch with the bases loaded.
In extras, and with a light drizzle falling at Russ Chandler Stadium, Stefanski came through once again with a hit up the middle to drive in a pair of runs. Poulin shut the door on Georgia Tech with a 1-2-3 inning for the 9-7 victory.
The Huskies are back in action next weekend for a triple-header against Southern Louisiana.
Bryan Lambert is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.