Baseball: Huskies return to The Dunk to face Wichita State

UConn Baseball takes home a 9-1 win against Central Connecticut State University. This leaves them at 27-18 for the season. (Photo by Brandon Barzola/The Daily Campus)

The last time UConn was at Dunkin’ Donuts Park, things didn’t exactly go as planned. UConn dropped a mistake-filled three-game series against Cincinnati, kicking off the mid-season malaise that they’re still trying to escape.

The Huskies are just one game over .500 in the three weeks since then, and they’re hoping that this time, a series in front of a Hartford crowd can change their fortunes once again.

“I don’t think the venue matters that much, but the guys do seem to get a little bit amped up there and maybe try and do a little too much,” head coach Jim Penders said. “It’s a good thing that they’re cheering for you but you can’t put additional pressure on yourself and force things that aren’t there.”

When to watch

Game one of the series was moved up to 6:05 p.m. on Friday due to forecasted inclement weather. Game two will be Saturday at 2:05 p.m. and game three will be back at J.O. Christian Field on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Where to watch

The series will be broadcast live on the American Digital Network and over the airwaves on FM 91.7 WHUS, or at WHUS.org. Student tickets will be provided for free, as will transportation to and from the ballpark.

What to watch for

Bad at-bats with runners in scoring position have been a major issue for UConn during these past few weeks, but they took a good step forward on Tuesday against CCSU, leaving just eight runners on base in their 9-2 win.

“We did a better job, I think there’s still room for improvement there,” Penders said. “I think some guys relaxed (a) little bit more with runners in scoring position(s) but we still have to do a better job of shortening up our swings in those spots.”

Among those who got in on the fun Tuesday were Kyler Fedko and John Toppa, two players riding enormous hot streaks as of late. John Toppa seems to be enjoying his return to the leadoff spot immensely, hitting 12-for-27 over the past six games and riding a three-game multi-hit streak.

Kyler Fedko has also arrived as a dangerous middle of the lineup hitter, slugging .931 over his current six-game hitting streak.

Wichita State had a stacked squad last year and still managed a disappointing season last year, going 9-14-1 in conference on their way to an unceremonious second-round exit from the conference tournament courtesy of UConn.

This year they’re without Greyson Jenista and Alec Bohm, their two All-Americans, plus big man Gunnar Troutwine and the ace of their pitching staff, Kodi Heuer. They’re 20-24 overall, 5-10 in conference and riding a five-game losing streak despite strong efforts from one of the best middle-infield pairs in the conference: Second baseman Luke Ritter and shortstop Jordan Boyer, who own an OPS of .984 and 1.048, respectively.

Sophomore Liam Eddy, who holds the best ERA of all starters on the team, is expected to start game one on Friday, followed by veteran Preston Snavely on Saturday and freshman Connery Peters on Sunday.

Even though Wichita State hasn’t had the best fortune as of late, UConn can’t afford to let their guard down against anyone as the margins tighten in the race towards the conference tournament, Penders said.

“We don’t have the luxury of taking anyone lightly,” Penders said. “We gave them a good series out there and were fortunate enough to come out with a series win, and I’m sure they want to repay us.”


Luke Swanson is a staff writer for The Daily Campus.  He can be reached via email at luke.swanson@uconn.edu.