Baseball: UConn takes on Rhodies in historic midweek rivalry

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The UConn Huskies beat the University of Memphis 4 – 2, Sunday, at J. O. Christian Field. UConn had a double steal in the eighth inning, a risky move that put them in the position to take back the lead and finish off the game leading by two. (Photo by Kevin Lindstrom/The Daily Campus)

With their recent three-game thrashing at the hands of conference rivals East Carolina still fresh in their minds, UConn baseball will try to get their season back on track Wednesday against Rhode Island.

When to watch

Wednesday, April 24 at 3 p.m.

Where to watch

It’ll be a great day at J.O. Christian Field if you want to show up in person, sunny and 60 degrees. If you can’t make it, you can stream the game live on Huskies All Access or listen live on 91.7 WHUS FM, or at WHUS.org.

What to watch for

As UConn’s longest-running regional rival (the two teams have been playing since the Grover Cleveland administration), there’s no doubt that the Rhodies will throw everything they have at the Huskies. UConn is the more talented team by a decent margin, now they just have to practice like it in order to play like it.

“We just need to turn the page this weekend and have a couple of good practices,” Head coach Jim Penders said. “We, as a team, have to be better in all areas against Rhode Island.”

Colby Dunlop, the expected starter, has been on a tear so far in 2018. He hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in a game since February 23 against Coastal Carolina, lowering his ERA from 12.96 to 4.96 during that time.

Dunlop will face off against Rhode Island right-hander Justin Cherry, who’s 2-1 on the year with a 2.68 ERA and an impressive 9.24 strikeouts per nine innings.

For the 17-19 Rhodies, first baseman Xavier Vargas leads the team with 45 hits and 24 RBI on the year, typically hitting in the cleanup spot, while speedy center fielder Austin White leads the team with 10 stolen bases, batting .333 from the leadoff spot.

UConn’s main problem in Greenville was driving home runners in scoring position, leaving a total of 19 men on base in their series against the Pirates.

The Huskies toyed with their lineup all weekend in an attempt to remedy just that, trying Anthony Nucerino out in the leadoff spot for game one on Thursday and slotting Patrick Winkel in as the clean-up hitter in the first game on Saturday. Midweek games are traditionally the time to find out what works and what doesn’t, so you’ll probably see something funky thrown in (leadoff Conor Moriarty anyone?).

It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Huskies against East Carolina, a number of young players began to find their footing against some of the best pitching in the nation: Patrick Winkel hit .300 with four RBIs, and Kyler Fedko made the most of his opportunity in the final game — 2-for-4 with the second home run of his career should earn him another chance to crack the lineup.

Wednesday’s game is the first step the Huskies need to take to get their confidence back. They have a good record at 24-16, their RPI is still good at No. 24 in the country, they just have to get back to their series-winnings ways as the road towards the postseason continues.

Projected Lineups

UConn:

Name , Position

Michael Woodworth CF

Anthony Prato SS

John Toppa LF

Christian Fedko 2B

Patrick Winkel C

Chris Winkel 1B

Kyler Fedko DH

Conor Moriarty 3B

Anthony Nucerino RF

Colby Dunlop, RHP

Rhode Island:

Name, Position

Austin White CF

Kevin Heiss SS

Jackson Coutts LF

Xavier Vargas 1B

John Cristino DH

Joe Fortin 3B

Josh Brodeur 2B

Mark Coley RF

Jordan Laske C

Justin Cherry, RHP

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