UConn baseball barely missed out on hosting a regional in Norwich this year, so they will start out the 2018 NCAA Tournament on the road in the Conway, SC regional, hosted by Coastal Carolina.
The Huskies will be the two seed in the regional, a double elimination tournament, and will be joined by the host and one seed Coastal Carolina, the three seed Washington, and the four seed LIU-Brooklyn
The Huskies’ will begin their journey in the tournament against Washington. The other Huskies went 30-23 in the PAC-12, coming in third in the regular season conference standings and ranking 63rd in the country in RPI.
Washington’s rotation ranks fourth in the conference with a 3.61 ERA, kicking off with starter Joe DeMers, who owns the sixth best ERA of all pitchers in the conference, and closing out with shutdown closer Alex Hardy, who owns the best ERA of all relief pitchers in the PAC-12.
Washington’s lineup is anchored by lefty hit machine outfielder Mason Cerillo. His .349 batting average ranks tenth in the conference, and he leads the team in knocks as well with 66.
DH Joe Wainhouse provides the power for the lineup, standing at a formidable 6’6”, 255 lbs, slugging a team high .582. Wainhouse leads Washington in homers (14) and RBI (50), but also strikes out a ton, 61 times so far on the season, 17 more than Cerrillo in second.
If the Huskies do get past Washington in their game at noon on Friday, they will face the winner of the second game that day: the host Coastal Carolina vs. the four seed, LIU-Brooklyn.
This weekend will not mark the first time that UConn will play in Conway this season, as the Huskies earned an essential midweek victory over the Chanticleers on March 13th.
UConn jumped on starting pitcher Anthony Simonelli early, hanging 10 runs on him in the first two innings, all of them essential to the 12-10 victory.
Coastal Carolina was 42-17 last year and ended up winning both the Sun Belt regular season title and the conference title this year, slotting in at 17 in the RPI rankings.
If you look at a statistic in the conference, odds are that they’re either on top or near the top of the leaderboard. The Chanticleers are first in slugging, first in on-base percentage, second in batting average, first in opponents’ batting average, and second in ERA.
Coastal Carolina’s lineup may be a little lacking in the hitting category, with only two players hitting over .300 for the year, but they make up for that with power. Three out of the top ten Sun Belt sluggers are Chanticleers, and shortstop Seth Lancaster leads the way, top 30 in the nation with a .660 slugging percentage.
Leading the way for the Chanticleer’s rotation is ace Matt Earderson, who owns a 1.66 ERA and offensive lineman turned starting pitcher Jay Causey, who has turned into a key piece in Coastal’s rotation with a 2.14 ERA and 19 appearances, the second most on the team.
Coastal Carolina will play LIU Brooklyn in the second game on Friday, the team who received the automatic bid for the Northeast Conference, The Blackbirds came in third in the conference in the regular season, but upset conference favorite Wagner in the conference championship.
Luke Swanson is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.