Coming off their best weekend of the year, the UConn baseball team will continue its current home stretch of games and look to keep the momentum rolling against Bryant University at 3 p.m. Tuesday.
After a slow start to the season, the Huskies (13-12) have won eight of their last nine games. They will look to extend their current win streak to five against a Bulldogs team that has won five of their last six.
In its series against UMass this past weekend, UConn simply looked and played like the better team, winning all three games by a combined 27-6 score, including an 11-1 run-rule win in the first game of Saturday’s double-header. Everything is clicking for the Huskies right now at the perfect time, with conference play set to kick off this weekend.
All of UConn’s bats are heating up, with Kyler Fedko, Erik Stock and Christian Fedko all batting over .300 almost halfway through the year. The next three guys up are batting under .295 thus far, but they are entering Tuesday’s game red hot after a successful weekend, and they look poised to get closer to that .300 mark themselves. In particular, Chris Brown and Chris Winkel looked great, going a combined 9-for-21 and knocking in nine runs over the weekend.
The real game-changer for the Huskies though has been their improved pitching. In the three-game series against UMass, UConn’s starters went a combined 18 innings and gave up just one run while striking out 24 batters. Ben Casparius and Austin Peterson both earned their third wins on the year, combining for 13 shutout innings. Joe Simeone also got his first win of the season, giving up the lone series run among starting pitchers via a solo homer in Saturday’s first game.
Pitching was an issue early in the season for UConn, but now with the starters settling into their stuff, coupled with Jim Penders’ guys ability to score runs in bunches, opponents will want to keep an eye on this team as the season continues. Bryant (10-8-1, 8-1 Northeastern Conference) will be their last test before conference play starts up.
Coming off a five-game win streak of their own before dropping one to Wagner, the Bulldogs have a lot of guys that can hurt you. Five of Bryant’s regular starters are batting over .300, led by Liam McGill. The graduate student paces the Bulldogs in hits (30), home runs (4) and RBIs (26) while slashing an incredible .435/.494/.623 line.
Upperclassmen Jake Gustin and James Ciliento have also gotten off to good starts from the two and three-spots, batting .342 and .347 respectively. Ciliento leads the team with 19 runs scored.
On the mound, Bryant has two solid starters in Tyler Mattison and Tyler Schoff, but the Bulldogs are likely to start Luke Garofalo in Tuesday’s matchup. In his two starts, the sophomore has pitched just eight innings, given up eight runs and struck out seven, so the door is open for the Huskies to come out swinging and put runs on the board early.
UConn leads the series 7-4-1 all-time against Bryant. With momentum on their side, the Huskies will look to extend their series lead and win streak to five, just in time for Big East play to begin.