Coming off a big weekend series win against UCF that landed them their first appearance in a pair of top 25 lists, No. 22 UConn was caught slipping against Fairfield, falling 10-3.
After the game, however, head coach Jim Penders emphasized that the loss wasn’t due to overconfidence or a lack of focus on the part of the Huskies.
“They just flat out beat us,” Penders said. “They outplayed us, they hit the cover off the ball … We struck them out 10 times and yet they had 19 hits, that’s tough to do. So you tip your cap and say, ‘They beat us, fair and square.’ We were ready, we just got beat.”
The Stag scoring started early, as they put three across the plate in the first inning against UConn (17-10, 4-2 The American) starter Kenny Haus. The junior transfer had a rough go of it, giving up seven runs on eight hits.
The Fairfield (12-13, 4-2 MAAC) lineup started out hot and would stay that way, leading off the game with four consecutive hits, three of which would come around to score. Fairfield put up three more in the second inning, then chased Haus out of the game one batter into the third when Fairfied native Giacomo Brancato took him deep to center field, making it 7-0.
“We’re still learning things,” Penders said on working through Haus struggles. “He’s a guy that we haven’t seen a ton of, he was super last week and just had a bad outing. He showed he was human today, and I expect him to have a good outing next time he goes out there.”
Haus’ replacements didn’t fare too much better. Joe Simeone gave up a pair of hits through two innings, freshman Karl Johnson gave up three hits and a run through two innings after that and Chase Gardner would allow two more runs in the eighth.
Even as Fairfield left 12 men on base, UConn couldn’t come close to matching their offensive output. The Huskies looked up for the challenge in the bottom of the first inning — Michael Woodworth led off with a hit, John Toppa drew a walk and Chris Winkel drove them both home with a double to deep right-center — but their offense slowed beyond that, their only run after coming on John Toppa sacrifice fly in the fifth.
Toppa had by far the best night of any Husky, going 2-for-2 with a walk. No other player had a multi-hit game.
Wallingford native Jack Gethings matched a career-high in hits going 4-for-6 on the night, including a triple in the first inning, while Jack Guerrera from Watertown led the team with a pair of RBIs. Every Stag who made his way to the plate got on base, and all but one had a multi-hit game.
UConn will look to rebound today against UMass Lowell at 3 p.m. at J.O. Christian Field.
“That’s one that if you’re a football coach, it drives you nuts because you have to sit for six days,” Penders said on Tuesday. “But it’s nice to be able to come back here tomorrow… [UMass Lowell] has played all the heavyweights — North Carolina, Arizona, Georgia — so they’re not gonna come in here in awe of the Huskies. They’re gonna be ready to deliver their best punch, so we don’t have long to lick the wounds. We’ve got to get back at it tomorrow.”
Luke Swanson is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.