When it rains, it pours. That’s what the UConn baseball team has discovered this season, dealing with repeated postponements due to weather. When it snows—well, we’ll find out on Friday.
The Huskies (hopefully) return to action on Friday, taking on conference foe UCF at J.O. Christian Field for the first of a three-game series this weekend.
UConn (15-9, 1-2 in The American) has already had two games cancelled due to weather earlier this week, and the Huskies have played only two home games all season. Friday’s game, originally scheduled for 3 p.m., has been pushed back to 1 p.m. in anticipation of snow.
Last time out, on Saturday, the Huskies narrowly defeated Hartford 1-0 in a pitchers’ duel for their fourth-straight victory. Chase Gardner went seven scoreless innings for his second win of the season, and John Toppa delivered the sole RBI of the afternoon, a sac fly in the seventh.
UCF (21-9, 3-3 The American) comes in with the second-most wins in the conference behind East Carolina. However, the Knights are only 4-4 on the road (compared to 17-5 at home) and will obviously be tested to adapt to New England weather.
The Knights are fresh off a win against No. 16 Stetson on Tuesday. Before that, they took two of three from last-place Memphis. The UCF offense knows how to get on base, with the highest combined on-base percentage, .388, in the conference. Once they’re on the basepaths, they’re extremely aggressive, leading the conference in steals by a wide margin.
Individually, the Knights are led by Rylan Thomas, who has simply been ridiculous this season. He’s started in all 30 games, which only makes his slash line more astounding: .426/.500/.696. Thomas leads the team in every major offensive category. Shut him down, and the UCF offense takes a major step back. But that’s easier said than done.
Joe Sheridan will take the mound for the Knights on Friday. Sheridan is 3-1 with a 1.62 ERA in six starts this season. On Saturday, the Huskies will face UCF’s ace so far this season, Chris Williams. In seven starts, Williams is 3-1 with a miniscule 1.07 ERA. Sunday’s starter is TBA.
For the Huskies, they’ll rely on their starting pitching to keep up their recent dominance. UConn starters are currently riding a 35-inning scoreless streak, and the bullpen has been nearly just as effective. Overall, the Huskies have allowed just four runs in the past five games combined.
Thad Phillips and Zac Susi have been the primary table-setters for UConn this season, each with batting averages north of .330. Behind them, Isaac Feldstein is the main source of power in the lineup with eight home runs to go along with 55 runs driven in, both team-highs.
Weather permitting, the series kicks off at 1 p.m. on Friday at J.O. Christian Field, followed by a game on Saturday at 1 p.m. and a Sunday morning start of 11 a.m.