UConn baseball held their first inter-squad fall scrimmage of the year - not against themselves, but they didn’t invite some pushover school to J.O. Christian field.
No, Jim Penders’ squad faced off against a team full of Huskies from the past in their annual Alumni Game, a contest where the young guns came out on top 20-0.
Yet it wasn’t nearly just about the score of the game, it was about showcasing the UConn baseball talent that helped the program reach the heights that it has in the past couple years.
“It’s borderline overwhelming to see how many guys have come before you and built this program into what it is today,” shortstop Andy Hague said. “They’re the ones who afford us the opportunity to do everything that we do, so we’re very thankful for all of them.”
The alumni would get to impart wisdom on the team more after the game, but for former UConn third baseman and current member of the Baltimore Orioles’ farm system Willie Yahn, the advice never stopped since he was drafted in 2017.
Yahn is taking six classes this fall semester to finish out his degree and has been in and out of practice since he got back on campus a few weeks ago.
“I tried to introduce myself to all the guys, I talked to the whole time the first day I was back, just talked to ‘em. [I] let them know that if you need any advice from me or anything like that, I’ll help you out,” Yahn said.
The former high school pitcher even took the mound to showcase his skills against some of his former teammates in the light-hearted competition, relieving Carson Cross (‘15), the starter for the Alumni.
“That was the first time I was on the mound since last alumni game so it felt pretty good out of the hand,” Yahn said. “I was just trying to get some outs for the boys, it didn’t work out too well but what are you gonna do?”
A few of the new additions to the team definitely did showcase their talent to the J.O. Christian faithful on Sunday: Freshman catcher Patrick Winkel - first baseman Chris Winkel’s brother - hit a double to the wall in deep center in his first at-bat, then crushed a home run to the same spot in his second.
Transfer catcher/first baseman Cole Brodnansky also made the most of his only at-bat of the game, muscling a homer into the left field hedges off Dennis Accomando (‘09), the current baseball coach for Glastonbury high school.
Among the notable alumni that took part in the game were Kevin Vance (‘11), the current pitching coach for Rhode Island, Vinny Siena (‘15), pitcher for the New Britain Bees, and Aaron Hill (‘17), the 2018 Frontier League rookie of the year.
Current and former Huskies were honored before the game at a barbecue with the awards for the 2018 season. Chris Winkel won the Donald E. Rowe Scholar-Athlete Award, the James Allen Pitching Award went to Mason Feole, who was also the co-recipient of the Lawrence R. Panciera MVP Award with reliever P.J. Poulin.
UConn will continue their fall season with scrimmages on Friday, Sept. 28 against Niagara County Community College and Saturday, Oct. 6 against UConn - Avery Point.
Luke Swanson is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.