After seeing one of the most successful starts in program history, the 11-2 Huskies headed into spring break on fire. Playing two games before their Saturday to Monday weekend series against UC San Diego, Connecticut went 1-1 on the road, including a big win over No. 25 USC.
Ian Cooke got the start for the Huskies on Tuesday against the USC Trojans, and he didn’t disappoint. He pitched for 7.2 innings, allowing no earned runs on four hits and one walk and fanned seven batters. With that kind of pitching stability, UConn was able to capitalize in a big way on offense, peppering the Trojans for 10 hits.
Like the majority of the games they’ve played in, the Huskies struck first, thanks to a two RBI triple down the right field line from David Smith in the third inning. A pitching change from USC couldn’t slow Connecticut down, as Erik Stock ripped a double into left field, scoring Smith. A sacrifice fly by Casey Dana at bat later capped off a very successful four run inning for the Huskies.
Things were quiet offensively for both teams until the top of the sixth, when Bryan Padilla poured onto the Husky lead with a two-run shot, scoring Matt Donlan. Two innings later, Ben Huber found his pitch, driving himself in on a solo home run off of the light tower to make it a 7-0 UConn lead. That home run was the third in four games for Huber.
In the ninth, the Trojans went down fighting, getting a few baserunners out of Brady Afthim before hitting an RBI single. Garrett Coe came in for the Huskies to shut the USC offense down for the last 0.2 innings, giving the team their first ranked win of the season, 7-1. This marks the second win in as many contests for UConn against Power 5 teams this season, having previously beaten Louisville.
As much as the first game was good for the Huskies, the second contest was a whole different story. Taking on Long Beach State on Wednesday night, UConn got blown out in a 7-1 loss, their third of the season. It just wasn’t starter Hector Alejandro’s night, as he didn’t make it out of the second inning, allowing threes across the board: three hits, three walks and three earned runs. The bullpen didn’t do Connecticut any favors either, walking 10 more batters throughout the course of the game.
Some notable outings from the relievers include Cole Chudoba and Jack Sullivan, who each went a full inning with no walks, no hits and a strikeout each. They achieved these scoreless innings in eight and nine pitches, respectively.
The UConn offense had no answer for Long Beach State’s Zach Voelker, who threw six no-hit innings of baseball, walking one and striking out seven. After he exited the game, the Huskies earned just two hits against the three relievers the Dirtbags sent out. Their lone run of the game came off of a sacrifice fly, an unearned run due to a fielding error putting the scorer Korey Morton on base.
With this loss, Connecticut falls to 13-3 on the season, but is still in a great spot as they head into the Saturday to Monday weekend series against UC San Diego. After that series ends with Monday’s game at 4 p.m., the Huskies host four of their next five games, starting with Bryant University on Wednesday.