The UConn baseball team brought their A-game this weekend against Presbyterian, sweeping a double-header Saturday before a ninth-inning come-back victory in Sunday’s afternoon matchup.
“We were very fortunate to get out of here with a win, like I said, we just gotta be better, we gotta be able to close out a team,” head coach Jim Penders said. “Nobody deserved to win that game today, it was ugly but we’re gonna take it. We just simply have to be better.”
After dropping two-out-of-three to New Orleans last weekend, the Huskies scored 27 runs across seven hours on Saturday. They gave up just one run in each game en route to two victories.
UConn got seven dazzling innings from righty Nick Krauth to kick of the series, as he gave up just one hit on the night and struck out six.
The transfer from New Mexico has been spectacular through four starts this year, sporting a 0.36 ERA in 24.2 innings pitched. He has won every start thus far, including two against Michigan, who was ranked No. 1 overall by Baseball America for one of those starts. Krauth has allowed just four runs total, one earned, this season and just one extra-base hit — a double to New Orleans’ Pearce Howard.
Not only has he been the guy for the Huskies this season, but his team has shown up for him game after game. Through four starts, he has averaged 11.25 runs per game in support, which is unsustainable, but a great path to winning ball games.
UConn put the beat down on Presbyterian with 16 runs in the final three innings of Game 1. They scored four runs in the first six innings on a couple errors and sacrifice fly’s but dropped another four in the seventh on another sacrifice fly and a three-run bomb to left from Kyler Fedko.
They threw up a 10-spot in the eighth on a host of singles and errors, before Fedko hit his second three-run jack in as many innings. They grabbed a couple more in the ninth to put the game to bed, about as comfortably as possible, with a 20-1 lead.
Game 2 was led by starter Joe Simeone, who has been up-and-down thus far. Over six innings, he carved up the Blue Hose allowing no earned runs and three hits with 12 strikeouts. Simeone’s ERA is now down to 3.00 on the year through 15 innings, he has been solid except for a start against Michigan when he didn’t get out of the first inning.
“After the first I just tried to, Krauth has been pitching awesome and he’s been filling up the zone, I just tried to get ahead of guys and let the [defense] work like I did the game before and things went well,” Simeone said post-game Saturday.
The offense spread around the hits and runs, with multi-hit games from Erik Stock, Chris Winkel and Kevin Ferrer. Ferrer was 2-for-4 on the night with a double and three RBIs. Stock continued his solid season with a trio of hits as well.
Stock has thrived in a limited role at the plate, slashing .519/.581/.630 in seven games played. He has 14 hits on the year, including three doubles, and has driven in four.
“I’ve been drinking a lot of Mountain Dew before games,” Stock joked post-game Saturday. “I’m just looking for a pitch over the plate that I can get a barrel on and get on base to let everybody hit and score me.”
Game 3 was tight until the end, as UConn was down 3-1 going into the top of the ninth before they scored three runs to take a 4-3 lead. Starter Colby Dunlop held steady for five innings, allowing three runs, before Caleb Wurster came in to shut it down for the eighth and ninth.
The Huskies registered just five hits on Sunday, but three of them were for extra-bases as Chris Winkel led off the eighth with a triple before scoring on Kevin Ferrer’s double on the next pitch. Kyler Fedko added an RBI double in the ninth during UConn’s lead-taking rally.
Paul Gozzo got home on a wild pitch to take the lead with two outs in the ninth, scoring the winning run.
UConn nearly lost Sunday’s game because of a sloppy third inning, making three throwing errors in the span of two plays. Two runs scored with one out in the third because of throwing errors from catcher Paul Gozzo and right fielder Kyler Fedko.
“We got some help from those guys in the other dugout, but we have got to play a lot cleaner, a lot better if we’re going to be contending for any kind of championship,” Penders said post-game Sunday.
The weekend was marked by porous defensive efforts as the two teams combined to commit 19 errors across the three games, or 6.3 per game. In Game 1 of the weekend, the Blue Hose committed eight errors and only 12 of UConn’s 20 runs were earned.
“It’s in the left-hand column, which is the most important thing, but we had a long post-game huddle there,” Pender said. “A lot of negatives with our process but at the end of the day, you score four in the eighth and ninth and find a way to do enough to win the ball game.”
UConn will take on Hartford at Fiondella Field in West Hartford at 3 p.m. on Tuesday. The game will be broadcasted over the radio on 91.7 FM WHUS.