As we have officially entered Big East play, one thing has remained certain about the No. 25 Huskies: They are still very, very good.
After sweeping a pair of solo games against NEC opponents this week, the UConn baseball team swept the weekend as well, taking all three games at home against Big East rival St. John’s.
Friday’s contest was the most competitive of the series, as a late comeback push from the Red Storm was unfruitful in a 12-7 win for the Huskies. Connecticut really set the tone from the jump, coming in hot for a six-run first inning. RBI singles from David Smith and Ben Huber, an RBI double from Erik Stock and a three-run bomb from Matt Donlan helped HookC finish the game before the second inning even started.
Donlan continued his massive day at the plate in the third and fifth innings, where he added an RBI double in each. He finished the day 3-for-4 with five RBIs. The team kept their theme of scoring in odd-numbered innings into the seventh, with an RBI single from Smith and an RBI fielder’s choice from T.C. Simmons.
Ace Austin Peterson had a great day on the hill for the Huskies, going six full innings, allowing one earned run on five hits and striking out six Johnnies. He picked up his sixth win of the year and continued his no-loss season. Reliever Hector Alejandro had a rough follow-up, as the persistent St. John’s bats got the better of him for five runs, four earned, two hits and a walk in just 1.1 innings. A Red Storm grand slam really did him in, but the blast only made it a very manageable six-run ball game for the Huskies.
St. John’s continued to fight until the end, tacking on a run in the ninth off of reliever Brady Afthim, but UConn comfortably held onto the game for a 12-7 win on Friday.
Saturday’s performance was even more dominant than the five-run win on Friday. Like most of their games this season, the Huskies jumped out to an early lead, this time thanks to an inside-the-park home run from Stock to make it 1-0. In the second, a sacrifice fly from Simmons and a two-run single from Stock made it a 4-0 game. The game got more and more out of hand for St. John’s as the day went on, highlighted for UConn by RBI doubles from Zach Bushling, Casey Dana and Friday’s MVP Donlan. By the end of the day, it was a 13-0 victory for HookC and a confirmed series win.
While the bats may have put Saturday’s game away early, that shouldn’t take anything away from the masterclass that Pat Gallagher put on for the Huskies on the mound. The sophomore threw a complete game shutout, allowing four hits and a walk while fanning seven St. John’s batters. His pitch count was only 108 pitches as well. It was the first nine-inning complete game shutout for Connecticut since Nationals prospect Tim Cate did it in 2017.
Sunday’s game was more of the same. Stock again had a first-inning RBI, this time on a fielder’s choice to score Simmons. The second inning was where most of the damage was done for UConn, as Bryan Padilla walked with the bases loaded and Stock hit a grand slam on an 0-2 pitch to make it a 6-0 game.
By this point, the series was all but swept for the Huskies, but the powerful Connecticut bats kept tacking runs on thanks to not one but two wild pitches and two different RBI singles from Korey Morton. By the end of it all, UConn completed the sweep with a 10-0 victory.
Gallagher had the pitching performance of the weekend, but starter Enzo Stefanoni finished the weekend on a strong note. He went seven full innings, allowing one hit and three walks while striking out two on 86 pitches. Three different Huskies came out of the pen in scoreless relief, including Devin Kirby and Garrett Coe.
Next up for Connecticut is a trip to Dunkin Donuts Park in Hartford to take on Marist College on Tuesday, and then Big East play continues on Thursday in a weekend series against Seton Hall. Each game will be broadcast on Mixlr, and the Marist game can be found on FloSports.