After winning one out of three against nationally ranked Virginia last weekend, the UConn baseball team will be back at it this weekend against the University of Southern Mississippi.
The Huskies (1-2) will play the Golden Eagles (2-2) in three games at Pete Taylor Park in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The games will be at 5 p.m. on Friday, at 2 p.m. on Saturday and at 12 p.m. on Sunday (all times EST), and they can be streamed on the Conference USA website or listened to on 91.7 WHUS.
Despite hanging tough in every game against Virginia, the Huskies were still disappointed with their showing, particularly when it came to strikeouts. Ther team struck out at least 11 times in each game, which did not sit well with head coach Jim Penders. The team will have to put more balls in play and string more hits together if they’re going to have more success this weekend against Southern Miss.
However, that’s not to say that the offense was all bad for UConn last weekend. Reggie Crawford belted his first home run of the season on Friday. Chris Winkel had a four-hit game on Saturday. Chris Brown made the most of his first game action of his career, notching three hits and four RBIs (as well as a highlight-reel catch at third base) over the weekend.
There’s a lot for this team to build on, but they do need more contributions from up and down the lineup so they’re not putting so much pressure on the pitching staff.
Speaking of the pitching staff, the UConn pitchers overall had a solid weekend. Ben Casparius threw really well in his first UConn start on Friday, but he was slightly outdueled by one of UVA’s top pitchers. If the Huskies could get 5.2 innings of two-run ball from him every start, I’m sure they’d take it. The offense just wasn’t able to help him out last time.
The other two starters were Joe Simeone and Jimmy Wang. It will be interesting to see whether they go with that same rotation this weekend. Simeone pitched well, going 4.1 innings and allowing two unearned runs. Wang, who was used more as an opener, didn’t fare as well, letting up two runs in 1.2 innings on Sunday.
Out of the bullpen, the Huskies saw great multi-inning performances from Caleb Wurster, Kenny Haus and Austin Peterson, which shows the depth that this staff has. Overall, UConn is a really good team. It’s all about putting it together offensively this weekend.
Southern Miss has also had an up-and-down start to its season. They won two out of three against Northwestern State last weekend before losing to South Alabama in a midweek game on Tuesday. One of their wins was by mercy rule 10-0 in seven innings, so the Golden Eagles definitely have some pop.
Their big slugger so far this season has been freshman infielder Reed Trimble, who has two home runs and seven RBIs in the team’s four games. Christopher Sargent, a sophomore utility player, has also gotten off to a good start, batting .286 with a double and four RBIs. As a team, however, Southern Miss is only hitting .181, which is actually lower than UConn’s .192.
On the mound, the top guy for the Golden Eagles is senior Stanley Hunter. He threw six shutout innings with 13 strikeouts in his first outing, a 5-1 win for Southern Miss. Drew Boyd, a four-year sophomore, also had a clean outing with five shutout innings in his first start. The team ERA is 3.00, compared to 3.24 for the Huskies.
These two teams seem to match up really well. We’re likely to see another pitcher’s duel on Friday between the two aces, but the Huskies will look to fare better offensively than they did against UVA’s tough staff. Both teams have some really talented players, so it should be fun to watch.
UConn and Southern Miss have only met once in their history, a 6-3 win for Southern Miss back in March of 2011. The Huskies will look to at least even the all-time series this weekend with a series win.