One week after the Huskies took two of three games from Michigan, Baseball America’s No. 1 team in the country, they found themselves down two games to none to the University of New Orleans Privateers.
They lost Friday’s game 8-3, with the bullpen falling apart in the later innings. Joe Simeone turned in a solid start, going 4.1 innings and giving up just one run on three hits on four walks, bouncing back after giving up four runs in just two-thirds of an inning in his last start versus Michigan.
He turned the ball over to Will Lucas in the fifth, who after getting the final two outs of innings let two runners on in the sixth without recording an out. On came Pat Gallagher, who let both runners come around to score along with one more to put the Privateers up 4-1.
UConn cut it to 4-3 in seventh on a Chris Winkel two-RBI single, but a four-run eighth inning off of Kenny Haus (only one earned) essentially iced the game for New Orleans and set UConn down in order in the ninth.
UConn pitchers overall gave up nine hits, nine walks and hit three batters in their eight combined innings. New Orleans also gave up nine hits (in nine innings), but limited the walks and hit by pitches to just one each.
“It was a minor miracle that it was 4-3 in the eighth inning with the way we were pitching,” head coach Jim Penders told UConn’s Chris Jones following the game. “And our guys are coming back in the first inning saying ‘Hey, his zone is wide, be ready to swing,’ so that’s how bad it was. Guy had a decently, a generous zone for pitchers and we walked that many and we hit three guys … It was just really bad from the mound. We hadn’t seen that yet really, where there was those command issues. And it was up and down, it was everybody.”
Game two started out just about as bad as it possibly could have, following up a two-run first and three-run second with a seven-run third to go down 12-0 just a third of the way through the game. Colby Dunlop went out there for the third after giving up five through the first two frames and after retiring the first batter gave up one more and left one stranded on second, who would later come around to score.
Angus Mayock came into the game, making his first appearance of the season, and walked two to load the bases. He then scored one on a wild pitch and gave up an RBI single to end his day without retiring a batter. Jimmy Wang was next up to try to limit the damage, but after getting his first batter on a sac fly, he loaded the bases on two hit batsmen and a walk. New Orleans capitalized with a two-RBI single before Wang was able to get the final out of the disaster of an inning.
UConn managed to cut the lead to 14-7 by the time the seventh-inning stretch came around largely thanks to a five-run seventh inning, but New Orleans responded with four more of their own in the bottom half to officially put the game out of reach – if it wasn’t already – ultimately falling 17-8.
UConn pitchers once again struggled with their control, walking eight and hitting five in their eight innings pitched.
“There weren’t many positives; it starts with the guys on the mound and we did a terrible job on the mound for the second day in a row,” Penders told Jones. “Leadoff walks again, hit batsmen, 15 freebies from the mound including wild pitches and balks. Just not competing, not competing well at all.”
When game three rolled around, it could have been easy for them to just throw in the towel for the weekend and mentally move on to next week, but they did anything but.
The Huskies jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second – their first lead of the series – but New Orleans quickly answered back with two more of their own in the bottom half. However, from there on out it was all UConn, adding on one run in the fifth, two in the sixth and three in the seventh to go up 8-2.
Both Fedkos chipped in RBI singles for three of the runs and Erik Stock added an RBI double to the mix. Reggie Crawford also had an RBI single, adding to a great start to his UConn career, hitting .400/.436/.786 with seven doubles and 13 RBIs in just 30 at-bats on the season.
But the biggest performance came from starting pitcher Nick Krauth, who tossed seven innings, giving up six hits and two runs (none earned), giving the Huskies the stability from the mound they lacked all weekend. The most impressive part of his day? One walk, no hit batsmen.
“He’s been our best starter, there’s no way around it,” Penders told Jones. “We’re gonna have to start sliding him up earlier in the weekend, but he was exactly what we needed today.”
The Huskies will be back in action on Friday when they start a three-game series versus Presbyterian College.