For the 166th time in program history, the UConn baseball team will face off against UMass on Tuesday in Amherst. The Huskies lead the all-time series 89-73-3. Only Rhode Island has played more games against UConn.
After a short-lived stint in the national rankings, UConn (23-13, 7-5 The American) dropped out of the polls due to a rough weekend against Cincinnati. Since then, however, the Huskies have made a strong case to get back in the top-25, having won four of five including a series win over conference foe Memphis over the weekend.
Sophomore Christian Fedko was named to the American Athletic Conference Honor Roll last week after a terrific set of games. Fedko had a two-hit, three-RBI afternoon against Bryant on Tuesday and drove in three more runs in the series finale against Memphis, including a game-winning two-run single in the eighth.
“We’re leaving here after recruiting about two hours after the last pitch, and I’m getting into my car and there’s two guys in the barn. It’s the Fedko brothers,” head coach Jim Penders recalled after Fedko’s clutch performance on Sunday. “[Christian] prepared for it, and he believed he was gonna get it done…Everybody in our dugout felt good about having him up there.”
Each of UConn’s victories over the weekend was decided by two runs, as the Huskies have played a lot of close games at home this season. They’ve accumulated a 7-4 home record, compared to 16-9 away from home. Penders said right now he almost welcomes playing on the road.
“We’ve just had a lot of tension-filled days at home,” Penders said. “In some ways, I’m glad to get on the road, as crazy as that may sound. It seems like the guys are pressing a little bit at home, that shouldn’t happen.”
On the other hand, UMass (10-17, 5-7 Atlantic 10) has relied heavily on its home field advantage. The Minutemen are 4-2 at home, but just 5-13 on the road, coming off a home series win over George Washington. Collin Shapiro is the hottest bat in the lineup, slashing .320/.465/.410 with 18 RBIs and 19 runs scored.
“We’re gonna need the bats to come alive this week against an improved opponent in UMass,” Penders said. “They always give us a tussle no matter what the records are.”
UConn will be without star closer Jake Wallace, who was suspended for Tuesday’s game after being ejected on Sunday. Wallace made a coin-flip gesture in the dugout following a questionable strike call, and was promptly ejected. CJ Dandeneau, who picked up his fourth win of the season on Sunday, will also be inactive for the UMass game for rest.
The game begins on Tuesday at 3 p.m. in Amherst.
Andrew Morrison is the associate sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com. He tweets at @asmor24