Baseball gears for more conference play against UCF

The Huskies won 3-1 to the Boston College Eagles on Wednesday. Their next home game is on 4/2, playing against Fairfield University at the J.O. Christian Field.me game is on 4/2, playing against Fairfield University at the J.O. Christian Field. (Photo by Eric Wang/The Daily Campus)

After finally playing meaningful baseball games in Storrs, the Huskies hit the road once again for a three game set with American rival UCF.

Weather prolonged UConn from playing games at J.O Christian Field until this past week, creating a 21-game span of road games to start the season. Constant traveling can take a toll on a ballclub, but for Jim Penders’ group, it’s another day at the office.

“Hopefully it’s mitigated by the fact that we’re used to it,” Penders said on the early season traveling. “I can tell you it’s hard on the coaching staff and I’m not playing, but I’m also a lot older than they are. You see the freshmen the first trip and they’re all geeked up to get on that airplane and by the third, the fourth, the fifth trip, they’re not as boisterous as we’re going down the jetway or hanging out in the gate. They’re actually doing homework instead of people watching… So the novelty, I think, has worn off and now it’s just part of our routine, and it’s a business trip.”

When to watch

Friday, March 29 at 6 p.m.

Saturday, March 30 at 6 p.m.

Sunday, March 31 at 1 p.m.

Where to watch

All three games will be broadcast by WHUS on radio channel 91.7 FM.

What to watch for

“The guys should be filled with confidence right now. They’ve been playing well, coming off a good series at Houston, and now we gotta carry that forward,” Penders said.

And he’s right, his group should have lots of confidence heading into the weekend. Before winning a pair of contests against Hartford and Boston College, the Huskies (15-8, 2-1 The American) grabbed two of three from Houston to start their conference slate.

Mason Feole, the club’s ace, returned to his All-American self last Friday night. The junior southpaw tossed seven stellar innings, striking out eight Cougars while allowing just three hits and an unearned run.

“It just felt [good] to be out there on a Friday night again, and compete against a team that we’ve fought with in the past,” Feole said following his first win of 2019.

Even with Feole on the bump, the bats need to be active against a UCF (16-9, 0-3 The American) team ranked 18th in RPI. Michael Woodworth’s bat loves hitting baseballs, and his team-leading .398 average, accompanied by his team-best slugging mark of .614, hits (23) and home runs (4).

Anthony Prato has been following Woodworth’s lead, literally. You can usually find Prato walking to the box after Woodworth takes his hacks, and the results are almost identical. The junior shortstop is slashing .348/.472/.473 with a team-leading 11 doubles and trails Woodworth by only four hits.

Jimmy Wang gets the nod for Sunday’s afternoon start with Jeff Kersten in his usual Saturday spot. The redshirt freshman surrendered three runs in a little more than four innings. Though he didn’t get the win for his three strikeout performance, the Huskies prevailed with a 9-3 win.

The Knights are fresh off a 5-0 win over North Florida on Wednesday, but were swept by the ECU pirates last weekend and were outscored 26-17.

Tyler Osik does a little bit of everything at the plate, and with quite a bit of power. His .396 average and .451 on-base mark are the best on the squad while slugging .604 with five long balls. Outfielder Ray Alejo has put together an impressive start to 2019. The redshirt junior outfielder’s slugging percentage (.649) tops the rest of his teammates, and is only three back from the team’s RBI leader with 17.

Trevor Holloway and Grant Schuermann will do their best to keep the Huskies off the basepaths. Holloway, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound junior carries a 2-0 record in six starts with a 2.03 ERA, though Schuermann tends to send more batters back to the bench, striking out 25 batters compared to his eight walks. Schuermann, who matches Holloway in stature, gives up three runs a game on average through his six starts. The righty/lefty duo has surrendered four home runs combined in 62-and-two-thirds innings.


Kevin Arnold is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at kevin.arnold@uconn.edu.