Baseball: Ranked Huskies look to stay perfect at JOC against visiting Fairfield

Shortstop Anthony Prato has played a huge role in the Huskies hot start to the season. Photo by Brandon Barzola/The Daily Campus

It’s home sweet home for the Huskies this week. Fresh off a series win over conference rival UCF down in Florida, including a seven-inning, 10 run rout in Sunday’s rubber match. UConn returns to Storrs this week for a pair of mid-week matchups, the first of which comes against Fairfield University.

“And now you gotta get ready for Fairfield,” head coach Jim Penders said Sunday. “We can’t allow that to be a trap on Tuesday. You gotta have that right mindset tomorrow; getting rest and getting in the work that you need to get ready for those guys because they’ll be ready for us.”

When to watch

Tuesday, April 2 at 3 p.m.

Where to watch

As usual, WHUS 91.7 FM will have the coverage.

What to watch for

The now 22nd-ranked team in the nation, according to D1Baseball, and 30th by NCBWA, UConn has spent much of the season’s beginning away from Storrs’ cold and unforgiving climate. After 26 games, the Huskies sit at 17-9, with a 4-2 advantage over American opponents, and five games in a row at “home.”

“We’re looking forward to it, looking forward to getting home,” Penders said. “I think five in a row at home, right? I don’t know if we had that all of last year, seems like we were on the road midweeks a lot last year. Having two back-to-back at home will be nice and then a practice. An actual practice. We don’t get to do that very often.”

After Fairfield on Tuesday, UMass Lowell will come say goodbye to J.O. Christian Field before Cincinnati comes in for a weekend series. The opening two games will play at Hartford’s Dunkin Donuts Park, home of the Yard Goats, the AA-affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, before capping off the series at the JOC.

“Hopefully our fans will come out. Hopefully they are engaged and excited about seeing us,” Penders said. “If you watched us this weekend, I don't see how you couldn’t be excited about watching us. I’m excited watching us with the way we fought over the last two days. But, the higher you climb, the more your rear-end shows. We gotta just stay focused. The next game on the schedule is the most important, and we gotta get ready for the Fairfield Stags.”

This is an exciting time for UConn baseball and those who follow. As Penders said, his ballclub is climbing higher and higher, being nationally ranked for the first time since the season began and playing at a high level, with the Huskies earning weekly awards.

Anthony Prato and baseballs might not be the best of friends after his series in Florida. Batting .444 in three games, the junior shortstop smacked eight hits, including his first home run of the season, landing him on The American’s weekly honor roll. The Staten Island native also extended his reach-base streak to a team high 33-games.

If last week’s midweek games were any indication of starting pitching probables for this week, I would expect Kenny Haus to try and tame the Stags on Tuesday, with Colby Dunlop to fire away on Wednesday. Haus, with the help of seven-run second inning, earned his second win of the year in five innings of work. The west coast native let up three hits, allowing just one to cross the plate and a strikeout.

Even though Fairfield (11-13, 4-2 MAAC) suffered a nine-run defeat to Marist on Sunday, the Stags were riding the tails of a six-game winning streak. A pair of wins over Central Connecticut and St. John’s were bookended by a pair of doubleheader sweeps against Iona and Marist ahead of Tuesday’s bout.

A pair of seniors have done it all for the Stags, and I really mean done it all. The pair, Jack Gethings and Anthony Boselli, are the only two players batting over .300 on the team, .411 and .351 respectively, and are two of three players with double digit RBIs. Gethings, a homegrown kid out of Wallingford, Connecticut, is slugging .558 without a long ball on the year and has scored 21 runs. Boselli, a New Jersey native, leads the team with seven doubles and is a perfect three-for-three on stolen base attempts.

Though they may not be the pitching staff’s workhorses, Jake Noviello or Josh Arnold (no relation to this article’s author), will likely take the mound come Tuesday afternoon. Noviello, a freshman, carries a 4.09 ERA through three starts in just 11 innings, and has yet to record a win. Arnold, a veteran of the program as a junior, lets up more than five runs on average in his six appearances (two starts), with 14 walks to his 15 strikeouts on the year.


Kevin Arnold is a staff writer for the Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at kevin.arnold@uconn.edu.