The UConn baseball team enters this weekend in a really tough spot. The team sits at 4-10 on the year and has lost its last five games, including a brutal four-game sweep last weekend by Texas Tech.
You can try to excuse the losses to Texas Tech all you want, saying that the Red Raiders are a top-10 team in the country, and while that may be true, being swept in a four-game series is brutal. Especially when you take into account how they lost that final game: back-to-back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the 10th inning. Just brutal.
Two things can happen after a weekend like that. The team can fall down a rabbit hole and let the season turn for the worst. Or the team can pick itself back up and use that series as an example for what not to let happen again. Judging by the character of the players and coaches, I think the Huskies will do the latter, and that starts this weekend against St. Joseph’s (4-0).
The Hawks started their season just over a week ago and have only played four games, but they’re undefeated. So even though this team may not have the stature of Texas Tech, UConn is going to have to play really well to beat them.
The Hawks have some really good bats. They’ve scored in double figures in three out of their four games, and they’ve hit 11 home runs in that span. St. Joseph’s has a team batting average of .321 and there are more hitters batting over .300 to this point (eight) than under (six). That doesn’t bode well for a UConn pitching staff that has been, for lack of a better word, really bad.
The UConn pitchers have a combined 5.78 ERA, and last weekend it was even worse. That isn’t good enough to win most games at this level. And against players like Brandon Drapeau, Nate Thomas, Brendan Hueth and Luca Trigiani — all of whom are batting at least .389 with seven home runs combined — it really won’t be good enough. Both the starters and the relievers for the Huskies need to get better on the mound. That’s where it begins.
Offensively, UConn really hasn’t been too bad, especially in the last couple of weekends. Kyler Fedko finally found his groove after a slow start, Zach Bushling and Kevin Ferrer have been swinging the bat really well and the stalwarts of the lineup like Reggie Crawford and Pat Winkel are always dangerous. They should be able to do well this weekend against a St. Joseph’s pitching staff that also has an ERA in the 5.7 range.
The Hawks have won their games so far despite their pitching staff, not because of them. If the Huskies can get ahead early in the games this weekend, that will be huge to give their pitchers a cushion. Both these teams come in with similar track records this season: dangerous lineups and lackluster pitching. Something has to give this weekend, and the Huskies are hoping it’s a turnaround for them.
The games will be at 3 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday and 12 p.m. on Sunday at Smithson Field in Philadelphia. The games can be watched on ESPN+ or listened to on MIXLR.