In 1968, UConn baseball played at J.O. Christian Field for the first time. Now, over 50 years later, the program prepares to say farewell to the facilities. The Huskies play their home opener on Tuesday, taking on Hartford, kicking off the final season at JOC.
UConn was originally scheduled to make its home debut on March 12, but it was postponed due to weather. After playing 21 games on the road, the Huskies finally get a chance to defend their home turf.
Having won nine of its last 12, UConn (13-8, 2-1 The American) took two of three at Houston in its conference opener over the weekend. Junior Mason Feole returned to All-Conference form, tossing seven innings without allowing an earned run, striking out eight.
Hartford (5-11, 2-1 America East) comes in confident after sweeping Georgetown in a three-game series in Washington, outscoring the Hoyas 20-4 in the series.
It’s a relatively top-heavy lineup for the Hawks, though offense is not the primary cause for their 11 losses. Nik Pagan, Zachary Ardito and Chris Sullivan all boast batting averages north of .300, combining for 27 RBIs and 20 runs this season.
Instead, pitching has been the weak spot for Hartford so far this season. Six different pitchers have started games for the Hawks and the only two with at least four starts—Nicholas Dombrowski and Billy DeVito—have ERAs of 4.11 and 5.12, respectively. Redshirt senior Sebastian DiMauro has been the most reliable arm out of the pen, accumulating a 1.98 ERA with nine strikeouts in 13.2 innings.
The Hawks are coached by Justin Blood, currently in his eighth season at the helm of the program. Before taking the job at Hartford, Blood spent six years in Storrs, serving as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator under UConn head coach Jim Penders.
This will be the 55th meeting between UConn and Hartford. The Huskies have a 39-15 edge in the all-time series, including two victories over the Hawks last season.
Though J.O. Christian Field will soon close its doors for the final time, the baseball team will continue to play its games on campus, across the street from the current field. The new facilities are scheduled to be ready in 2020.
The beginning of the end starts with the first pitch scheduled for 3 p.m.