Hot off a weekend sweep of Seton Hall to extend itswin streak to nine games, the No. 15 UConn baseball team is set to take on a couple of Massachusetts teams this week, playing UMass on Tuesday at home and Boston College on Wednesday on the road.
The Huskies (28-7, 6-0 Big East) are enjoying a historic season, having won 10 of their last 11 games and jumping out to their first 6-0 start to conference play since 2017.
The team’s offense has been one of its strongest points, with seven of its nine typical lineup batters with an OPS over .850. Erik Stock continues to lead the offense for the Huskies, as the graduate student is slashing .423/.488/.718. As it stands, his batting average is good for seventh in the country.
Connecticut’s pitching has been dominant this season as well, with the team having a combined ERA of 2.91, good for third in the country. The starting trio of Austin Peterson, Pat Gallagher and Enzo Stefanoni has been a big part of that equation, as all of them have an ERA below 3.0. They are eachallowing an opposing batting average of .227 or lower, showing their superiority on a weekly basis. In the series finale against Seton Hall, Stefanoni was in prime form, going eight full innings and allowing five hits, four walks and one earned run.
While head coach Jim Penders typically saves his starting trio for the bigger weekend series, it will be interesting to see how he approaches these two mid-week games. In last week’s game against Marist, he opted for a bullpen day, utilizing seven pitchers for no more than two innings apiece. You can expecthim to do that in at least one game this week, but how about the other? Another option could be Cole Chudoba, who was the fourth starter in the rotation until struggles took him out of contention. He may need to be called upon for the Huskies this week.
UMass (16-12-1, 6-3 A10) has had a successful season thus far but has slid as of late, dropping the last two games of its most recent series against URI, which UConn took two out of three from earlier in the year.
The Minutemen utilize a puzzling rotation, having started nine different pitchers over the course of this season, with no real pattern to decide who will pitch on Tuesday. If UMass sends out Daniel Livnat or Matt Aronson, the Huskies may have some work to do, as these pitchers boast ERAs of 2.96 and 3.55, respectively. All other starters have ERAs north of 4.0, so the UConn power offense should theoretically make quick work of them.
The Minutemen are led at the plate by Cole Hebble, who has posted a .417 batting average and a 1.103 OPS this year with hopes to increase those numbers this week. His batting average ranks 14th in the entire country. Other power bats to watch out for on the team include Will MacLean and Drew DeMartino, who boast OPS’s of 1.015 and .946, respectively.
Boston College (15-21, 3-15 ACC) has had a puzzling year to say the least. As its conference record states, they’ve had a rough time in ACC play, most recently dropping all three games to NC State. Outside of conference games, the Eagles are 12-6, notably winning the Baseball Beanpot last week over UMass. The team also beat UConn at the end of last month in a shocker in Storrs, 5-3.
In that midweek game, the Eagles opted for a bullpen day, with Julian Tonghini starting things off with three innings of one-hit baseball. Henry Leake and Joey Ryan combined for five innings of solid relief, closing out the game for BC. The only pitcher that the typically explosive Husky offense got to was John West, who gave up three hits and a run in his one inning of relief. While the pitching status is unknown, expect the Eagles to go back to the bullpen in this one.
The Eagles are led on offense by the trio of Luke Gold, Joe Vetrano and Cameron Leary, who have all posted an OPS of over 1.000 this year. In the last matchup between the two teams, the group of three went a combined 6-for-14 with a walk and four RBIs. UConn pitchers need to be cautious when dealing with the meat of this BC lineup, as the Eagles have already proven they can inflict some damage uponthe Huskies.
Tuesday’s game against UMass is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. at Elliot Ballpark in Storrs. The contest will be broadcast on FloSports, ESPN 97.9 and Mixlr. Wednesday’s game against BC is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. The matchup will be broadcast on ACC Network and Mixlr.