UConn baseball starts 2019 with a huge challenge, taking on No. 4 Louisville in its first series of the year in Lakeland, Florida.
Louisville is poised for a breakout year, looking to improve on their 24th-ranked 2018 campaign where they, similarly to UConn, went out in the regional round of the NCAA tournament. They were voted to win the ACC in the conference’s preseason poll, and all the stars seem to be aligning for them to make another College World Series run, like they did in 2017.
When to watch
UConn will kick the series off at 6 p.m. Friday evening, the second game will be played on Saturday at 3 p.m. and the final game of the series is at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Where to watch:
None of the games will be televised, but all three will be available on the radio at 91.7 FM WHUS or streaming on WHUS.org.
What to watch for
With UConn’s ace Mason Feole out for a few weeks of the season, everyone in the normal weekend rotation will get moved up a spot:
Senior Jeff Kersten will start the Huskies’ first game of the season on Friday. The righty started the 2018 season in a relief role, but earned a regular spot in the rotation by the end of the year finishing with a 4.66 ERA and owned a 4-3 record.
Sophomore Colby Dunlop will start the second game of the weekend, a much bigger role for him after spending most of 2018 as a weekday starter. Head coach Jim Penders has not decided on a third starter for the weekend.
Kersten pitches to contact, so UConn’s new-look infield will be tested early and often against Louisville’s high-powered lineup.
The Cardinals’ lineup is headlined by first baseman Logan Wyatt, who earned All-American honors in 2018 with a .339 average, a .490 on-base percentage and a whopping .522 slugging percentage while driving in 69 runs.
He’ll be followed in the lineup by designated hitter Danny Oriente Jr. who hit .331 last year. Oriente doesn’t hit for quite as much power as Wyatt, but does provide a home run potential in the middle of the lineup.
Shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald didn’t have the most impressive sophomore year, but has raised his draft stock by a mile this fall and is now considered a high-round draft prospect according to D1Baseball.com.
Louisville’s pitching staff is headlined by big lefty Nick Bennett. The junior starter gained preseason All-American honors after posting an 8-2 record last year with a 2.84 ERA.
Bennet will start the second day of the series, with sophomore Reid Detmers, another left, facing off against Dunlop and veteran Bryan Hoenig starting on Sunday.
Their bullpen is similarly impressive, as junior Shay Smiddy leads the relief staff with a 2.96 ERA and 56 in 45.2 innings pitched.
Luke Swanson is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.