Staying in Storrs after Wednesday’s game, where No. 25 UConn beat Bryant University 9-1, Hook C was back at Elliot Ballpark on Friday afternoon. This was the start of a three-game weekend series against the University of Rhode Island Rams, and it couldn’t have been a stronger opening night, as UConn came out with a 19-2 win.
Friday marked the highest number of runs scored in a single game so far this season for the Huskies, totaling 19 on the night. Austin Peterson led UConn from the mound, pitching for six innings and completing 11 strikeouts while simultaneously not allowing a single walk.
T.C. Simmons had a hot bat on Friday with a single in the first inning to bring Ben Huber and Zach Bushling in before hitting a homerun later in the third inning. After the game, Simmons noted that he was “just staying short and not trying to do too much with the baseball,” despite making some big moves.
Bryan Padilla also hit a homer in the third to bring himself and Matt Donlan home, and then UConn’s lead to 7-1. In the fourth inning, it was Erik Stock’s turn for a homerun. The fourth and final Husky to hit a homerun on Friday was Huber in the sixth with Stock and David Smith on base to contribute another run each for a 11-1 game at the end of that inning.
The seventh inning saw the most scoring and offensive moves for UConn, consisting mainly of singles to keep the Huskies running around the bases. Combined with a few defensive errors by the Rams, the score was 17-1 after UConn got hits from Smith, Christian Fedko, Stock, Huber and Dana.
The only scoring that URI had was a homerun in the second inning and a single in the ninth, with baserunners capitalizing for a visit home to close out the first game of the series at 19-2.
As much fun as this game was for the Huskies, the energy didn’t travel with them out of the state on Saturday for the visit to Bill Beck Field at URI.
“We weren’t even in the ballpark. I don’t know where we were, but we certainly weren’t in Kingston, Rhode Island in the first four innings,” head coach Jim Penders said after UConn lost on Saturday. “The only guy that was here was Pat Gallagher. [I give] credit to him, he kept battling, but he can’t do it himself.”
Hook C didn’t score until the top of the fifth inning. In UConn’s defense, quite literally, URI wasn’t on the board until fifth as well. Gallagher had a strong defensive run in the fourth inning to kill off loaded bases with consecutive strikeouts. To follow with offensive work, it was Matt Garbowski with a single to bring in Padilla and score a run.
Immediately, URI responded with a single to set up a Ram for a run, before securing a homerun to bring in three more players and secure a 4-1 lead that wouldn’t falter for the rest of the game as UConn wouldn’t be able to catch up.
Stock kept the Huskies in the game with a sixth-inning homerun, the third-straight game where he’s hit a homerun, but it wouldn’t be enough. Ultimately, the Rams held Hook C to two runs and scored more in the final innings for a 6-2 final score, making the series even.
Penders was disappointed by not only the loss, but the extent of it as well. He said after the game that he was hoping for a “tight game” considering the huge margin of victory the day before.
On Sunday he got his wish, as the Huskies won the series with a 4-1 finish to close out the last game of the series.
Donlan started Hook C off hot with a double out to right field, sending Simmons to home plate for a 1-0 lead in the second. Right after, URI scored their only run off of a ground ball and Rams running around the diamond.
Stock silenced the Rams with a homerun to take back the lead, which the Huskies would keep and add onto for the rest of the game.
On a bunt in the fourth, Smith hit a single to advance both Donlan and Simmons. Simmons did the honors for UConn and came home for another run. Scoring wouldn’t pick back up until the seventh inning, where Huber doubled and sent Bushling across home plate for a 4-1 victory over URI. UConn had Enzo Stefanoni starting on the mound and he earned Sunday’s win, pitching for five innings.
After this weekend, UConn improves to 17-5 this season as URI’s record currently sits at 3-18. UConn will remain at home for the next game on Tuesday, March 29, against Boston College at 3:05 p.m.