For the first time this season, the UConn baseball team won a weekend series. It took all three games to decide it after the Huskies (6-11) split Friday and Saturday’s matchups with the Hawks, but with a 13-0 rout in Sunday’s rubber game, UConn is headed back to Storrs with their first series win of the year.
Pitching was the name of the game early in Friday’s series opener, with St Joseph’s (5-2) holding just a 1-0 lead after three, but a four-run fourth inning gave the Huskies a lead they would hold the rest of the way en route to a 6-4 win.
Kyler Fedko’s bat stayed hot with a single to start things off in the fourth, and a Pat Winkel walk and Reggie Crawford hit set up brother Christian Fedko with a bases-loaded opportunity that he would not pass up. The second baseman hit a bases-clearing double down the left field line to knock in the three base runners.
“That was big,” Penders said. “In that situation we’ve just been getting a sac fly and you get one. [That’s] ok but a bases clearing double when we need it, he’s ready to hit and hit a shot down the line and we can score all three guys even with Pat and Reggie on the bases.”
Christian would later cross home plate himself after a Ciaran Devenney groundout, extending UConn’s lead to three and capping off the four-run frame.
The Hawks put some pressure on in the sixth after a fielding error knocked in one of three runs St. Joseph’s would score, but a couple of RBIs from Kevin Ferrer and Kyler Fedko were enough to push the Huskies over the hump for just their first series-opener win on the year.
The Fedko brothers put in the work offensively, combining to go 4/8 and knocking in four of UConn’s six runs in the game, but it was the Huskies’ pitching playing the largest part in the win.
In his fourth start of the year, Casparius (2-2) looked great through the first five innings, holding the Hawks to just one run. He faltered a bit in the sixth before coming out in the seventh but would finish the game with three earned runs and 11 strikeouts — the second time he’s reached double figures this year — through 6.2 innings.
Relief pitcher Kenny Haus got UConn out of trouble with the bases loaded in the seventh before Caleb Wurster earned his first save of the season pitching a shutout ninth.
“Kenny did a nice job coming in,” Penders said. “We felt like he could close it but it was just time to go to Caleb, and he was already hot so we let him come in and do his thing.”
UConn’s offense stayed hot in Saturday’s matchup, but a six-run inning for the Hawks saw the Huskies their seventh game of the year by one run, this time losing 8-9.
Both sides were quiet to start the game, with St. Joseph’s leading 2-1 after four innings, but an error by Christian Fedko proved to be the difference maker as the Hawks blew the doors open with a six-run seventh to extend their lead to seven. But as has been the story all season, the Huskies fought back late.
It was once again Kyler Fedko getting things started for UConn in the eighth with his third hit on a perfect 4/4 day. He’d get to third base after Winkel and Christian Fedko also reached base safely, setting up Reggie Crawford with the bases loaded. And in a scenario you dream about as a kid, Crawford went deep, hitting a grand slam to right field to cut St. Joseph’s lead to three.
A three-run inning in the ninth would get the Huskies to within one run, but a Kevin Ferrer groundout ended another disappointing nailbiter for UConn.
Joe Simeone (0-3) picked up the loss for UConn, allowing three runs on three hits through four innings. It was a solid performance for Simeone, but the sixth inning that saw three Huskies pitchers give up runs made the difference.
In Sunday’s rubber game, however, it was UConn from start to finish. Christian Fedko brought home the first of his two RBIs in the opening frame, hitting a single to left field to score brother Kyler Fedko.
The Huskies would go quiet for the next two innings before racking up six runs in innings 4-6, including Winkel’s fourth home run of the season and Kyler Fedko’s first, to extend their lead to seven.
Six runs in the final two frames with RBIs from Winkel, Ferrer, Christian Fedko and Korey Morton would push UConn’s lead to 13 in their most complete performance.
Even more impressive than the team’s bats was UConn’s pitching, in particular from starter Austin Peterson. The junior had the best game of his UConn career, throwing 7.1 shutout innings, giving up just two hits and striking out eight.
“[Austin] was just awesome,” Penders said. “When we scored it was maybe a 30-second inning after we went up 4-0. He was a lot of fun to watch today and he was having fun too.”
Justin Willis rounded out the eighth before Crawford closed out the game with a 1-2-3 ninth inning that made him look like as valuable a piece of this bullpen as any.
This was exactly the sort of game the Huskies needed to have after their rough start to the season, and with their next three series at home, they’ll look to carry this momentum and turn their season around.