The UConn baseball team made its way south for the third straight weekend, this time to Conway, S.C., to participate in the “Baseball at the Beach” event at Coastal Carolina University. The Huskies have gone 2-1 so far, beating Miami (Ohio) on Friday, losing to Davidson on Saturday and beating Coastal Carolina in a thrilling extra inning game on Sunday. The team has one more game in Conway on Monday at noon against Coastal Carolina again.
On Friday, UConn (4-5) got a nearly flawless outing from Ben Casparius in a 5-0 win over the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks (6-5). Casparius threw eight shutout innings, allowing just three hits and striking out a career high 11. He picked up his first win in a UConn uniform.
“He did a heck of a job,” head coach Jim Penders said after Friday’s game. “That’s how good we know he can be, and he should take a lot out of that outing. He basically carried us today.”
Sam Favieri came in and completed the shutout for the Huskies with a clean ninth inning.
At the plate, the Huskies only put up six hits, but they were timely enough to result in five runs. In the second inning, UConn put up three runs after Christian Fedko doubled and then scored on a wild pitch. Later in the frame, Chris Winkel drew a bases loaded walk, and Zach Bushling followed that up with a clutch RBI single.
Later in the game, Reggie Crawford hit an RBI triple, and Pat Winkel added an RBI double. That was more than enough for Casparius, who was incredible for the Huskies.
UConn couldn’t keep the momentum going on Saturday morning, losing to the Davidson Wildcats (5-5) 4-3. The Huskies had a golden opportunity to make a statement to start the game with the bases loaded and nobody out in the first inning. However, the heart of the order went down 1-2-3 to strand the runners. Penders said that really set the tone for the game, and not in a good way.
“Offensively, I thought we were terrible,” Penders said. “In the first inning, we had an opportunity and we had three terrible at-bats in a row. That kind of set the tone for them and let them off the hook.”
The score remained 0-0 until the fourth inning, when Joe Simeone got into some trouble for the Huskies. He let up a couple of hits and a couple of free base runners on a walk and a hit by pitch, and it resulted in two runs for Davidson. UConn was able to tie the game 2-2 after an RBI single by Bushling in the fifth and a sacrifice fly by David Langer in the sixth.
But in the bottom of the sixth, Kenny Haus, who came in for Simeone in the fourth and worked out of a jam, let up a two-run home run to Davisdson’s John Hosmer to make it 4-2.
The Huskies got one run back in the ninth on Crawford’s fourth home run of the season, but it wasn’t enough and UConn dropped its fourth one-run game of the season.
On Sunday, the Huskies bounced back with a huge 5-4 win over the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (7-3) in 12 innings. Coastal Carolina was the best team UConn faced over the weekend, with wins already this season over ranked teams like West Virginia, Wake Forest and Duke.
The Huskies jumped out to a 3-0 lead on three solo home runs — two by Pat Winkel, bringing his season total to three, and one by Kevin Ferrer, the first of his career. Then, Coastal Carolina came back in the fifth inning to tie the game at three against UConn starter Austin Peterson, who up to that point had been dealing. Peterson got into some more trouble in the sixth, but Andrew Marrerro came in and got out of it.
Marrerro worked into some trouble of his own in the seventh, and actually let the Chanticleers take a 4-3 lead on a wild pitch. But he bore down and stranded the bases loaded to keep UConn in the game. That would be key, as the Huskies were able to tie the game in the ninth when Erik Stock drove in pinch runner Andy Hague with a sacrifice fly.
The game would go to extras, where it was quiet until the 12th inning when Stock scored on a Crawford fielder’s choice, pushing his team-leading RBI total to 12. Stock had a huge day, going 3-for-6 at the plate with an RBI and scoring the crucial go-ahead run. Caleb Wurster shut the door in the bottom of the inning, capping off an incredible 4.2 scoreless innings in relief with 10 strikeouts, which resulted in his second win of the season.
“We had a dude coming out of the bullpen tonight, he was electric,” Penders said about Wurster’s gutsy performance. “His stuff was unbelievable … He was just awesome. We really needed that.”
The Huskies notched their hardest fought win of the young season so far on Sunday. UConn and Coastal Carolina will meet one more time on Monday at noon. The game can be seen on ESPN+ or listened to on 91.7 WHUS. If that game is anything like Sunday’s, buckle up because it will be good.