Today is finally the day. After a long (and I mean long) wait, the UConn baseball team will finally get to open its beautiful new stadium, Elliot Ballpark, for a real game when the Huskies host Central Connecticut State. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. EST.
The ballpark’s opening is coming about a year after it was originally scheduled due to home game cancellations last season as a result of COVID-19. The team practices on the field all the time, and they played a bunch of scrimmages on it in the fall. But this will be the first time UConn gets to host an opponent for a game that counts. It won’t be the big celebration with packed stands that was originally intended for the park’s opening, but there will still be some family and friends of the players, as well as some media present for the big occasion.
The Huskies (6-11) enter the game coming off a solid series win over St. Joseph’s over the weekend. After winning 6-4 on Friday and losing 9-8 on Saturday, UConn put together its best performance of the season, winning 13-0 on Sunday. It’s been a tough season so far, but the team may be finally hitting its stride.
After starting the season ice cold at the plate, Kyler Fedko has caught fire. He went 8-for-12 over the weekend and now leads the team with a ridiculous .439 batting average and a 1.106 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. Reggie Crawford also had a solid weekend as he blasted his team-leading sixth home run. Pat Winkel, Zach Bushling and Christian Fedko are among the other Huskies swinging hot bats right now, and when all those players are playing well at the same time, UConn can put a lot of runs up on the board.
The biggest flaw for the Huskies this season has been the pitching. While it was better this weekend, it still wasn’t great. Ben Casparius picked up his second win with a decent outing on Friday, but on Saturday, Joe Simeone, Pat Gallagher and Randy Polonia gave up eight early runs to put UConn in a big hole; they almost climbed out, but didn’t. The best performance of the weekend came from Austin Peterson, who threw 7.1 scoreless innings on Sunday.
It’s unclear who will start Tuesday since UConn hasn’t played a midweek game yet, but whoever does will look to replicate Peterson’s performance.
The Central Connecticut State Blue Devils (5-3) have had a bunch of games canceled in the early going this season. But in the games they have played, they’ve done pretty well. Like the Huskies, CCSU also took two out of three from its opponent this weekend, Sacred Heart. The Blue Devils have a .288 team batting average — very comparable to UConn’s .280 — and a 3.50 team ERA — much better than UConn’s 5.30. But you must also take into account the discrepancy between the opponents the two teams have faced.
Regardless, CCSU has some guys that can play. Buddy Dewaine is batting .394 with a team-leading 13 hits in eight games. Dave Matthews is hitting .355 and leads the team with two home runs and eight RBIs. Jay Devito leads the team with a .409 batting average and has also walked 10 times, so his on-base percentage is up over .600. This is a really solid lineup.
Depending on who is on the mound for CCSU, UConn’s hot lineup could have a challenge. Andrew Braun has thrown 19 innings and has an ERA of just 0.95, and Anthony Mozzicato is right behind him with a 1.17 ERA in 15.1 innings. Those two guys are a combined 3-1 in their six combined appearances (five starts). We’ll have to see what the pitching matchup is, but if one of those two is on the mound for the Blue Devils, they may have the slight advantage in pitching — at least to start.
It should be a really good game between a couple of old in-state rivals with a lot of history. UConn has typically dominated this series, winning 33 of the 42 all-time matchups. But CCSU does have some wins in there, including one just five years ago at J.O. Christian Field. The Huskies will try to open up their new home on campus with a much-needed win to keep their positive momentum going.