Although Storrs is no sunny Florida, UConn was able to shine even in the cold weather on Tuesday afternoon at Elliot Ballpark, beating the University of Hartford Hawks 8-3.
“We were not UConn tough today,” head coach Jim Penders said after the game. “It was an ugly baseball game, but fortunately we were able to come out on top.”
UConn found its strengths offensively, scoring early in the game to head into the third inning with a six-run lead over Hartford, keeping the Hawks from reaching home base.
With several singles from Zach Bushling, T.C. Simmons, Erik Stock and Ben Huber, it was David Smith who was able to combine them to make the hits count for runs. Tuesday marks Stock’s 21-game hitting streak after his visit to the plate.
“I was just trying to get on base today honestly,” Smith said. “I’ve had a decent little hitting streak going, about one or two hits each game,
Later in the third inning, it was Smith who was able to return the favor and hit a single past Hartford’s shortstop, resulting in another run, scored by Simmons. Smith led the Huskies in hits with three at Elliot Ballpark.
UConn started the game hot with continuous scoring but started to cool down as it got colder and the wind started blowing stronger. Nonetheless, the Hook C kept its cool and the Hawks at bay, only allowing three runs out of Hartford’s eight hits.
“I’m sure you saw, we have the third best ERA in the country,” Smith said, believing that Tuesday’s game will have a positive contribution to UConn’s earned run average.
Coach Penders agreed, noting that “Today, we were auditioning a lot of guys” and believes that Brady Afthim and Braden Quinn were two that certainly nailed their time on the mound. “Those two guys that finished out were probably the best of anybody,” he said.
Hector Alejandro was UConn’s starting pitcher before the Huskies cycled in five more to keep the success going for eight and a half innings.
“I can’t really complain too much about our pitching,” coach Penders said. “I can complain about our defense and our lack of concentration and our baserunning; too many outs on the base paths today.”
The scoreboard didn’t show it, but UConn gave up six outs in the first inning. Equating them to a potential six runs, this put the Huskies in a tough position. Simultaneously, UConn scored a season-high of five stolen bases.
“The ball’s slippery when it’s cold. It slips out of gloves and you saw that a lot in the first couple of innings especially,” Penders said.
Nonetheless, Smith shared that the team tried to “just continue to stay relaxed and play the game we know how to play.”
UConn’s win over Hartford brings the Hook C to 9-1 on the season ahead of the upcoming series at Pepperdine University.