The UConn baseball team is ready to have their home opener against the University of Hartford Thursday at 3:00 p.m., after having to cancel games on Mar.7 and Mar. 20 due to inclement weather.
Huskies catcher Zac Susi said that the team is looking forward to the first home game and an in-state battle.
“We take it a little more personal because they are in state,” Susi said. “You know we want to beat those in-state guys … We are going to prepare like normal, we are going to come after it tomorrow and try to get a couple of wins this weekend. It all starts with a good start from Timmy (Cate).”
UConn (12-9,1-2) is coming off a 4-0 win against Boston College, thanks to a stellar outing from Jeff Kersten. The righty hurled 8.2 shutout innings to not only give the Huskies their 12th win on the season, but also capture head coach Jim Penders’ 500th of his career.
“It was good,” Penders said of win No. 500. “I think guys that say they don’t know it’s happening are full of it. You know where you’re at in the season and I knew it wasn’t too far away. It’s just nice to have it in the rear-view mirror.”
UHart (5-15) is coached by former Husky associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Justin Blood. He was with the Huskies from 2006-2011 and even helped to recruit George Springer.
Penders said that this is his least favorite game of the season because he and Blood are close friends. Also, UConn will have to change their signs since Blood is familiar with the program.
The Hawks offense is lead by Nick Campana who is hitting .357/.416/.486 with a homer, six doubles and 11 RBIs. Ashton Bardzell has been the main power source, clubbing five homers and 13 RBIs.
UHart’s pitching has been underwhelming as a whole, accounting for a 5.58 ERA. However, Nicholas Dombkowski is coming off a stellar start for the Hawks, throwing eight shutout innings against Maine in the 1-0 win. The lefty was named the America East Co-Pitcher and Rookie of the Week.
UConn’s offense is led by Susi, who is hitting .329/.386/.355 with eight RBIs. Isaac Feldstein is the team’s leader in homeruns (7) and RBIs (20). Junior John Toppa has been one of the Huskies most consistent hitters, batting .291/.400/.380.
Junior ace Tim Cate will get the start for the Huskies and is coming off one of his best starts of the season. The lefty tossed five innings, struck out 11 and allowed one run against USF. Penders said he expects him to bring that same energy Thursday.
“These are big games,” Penders said. “They are big games for us, but they are really big games for (UHart and CCSU) too and they really have an opportunity to knock us off. We can’t let that happen.”
Michael Logan is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.