Tuesday and Wednesday were just another pair of mid-week games for UConn as the team beat the UMass Minutemen and the BC Eagles. These wins bring the Huskies to an 11-game win streak, which is tied with the 2016 season for the longest win streak in Hook C history.
UMass came to Storrs ready to dominate—and the Minutemen did. By halfway through the first inning, they were up 5-0 over the Huskies. Braden Quinn was the first Husky on the mound for his seventh visit of the season and has a 5.11 ERA after this week.
Singles from T.C. Simmons and Bryan Padilla followed by a double off of Erik Stock’s bat quickly brought in two runs for UConn to gain some momentum. Ben Huber kept it going with a homerun that sent Stock and Casey Dana as well as himself around the bases, immediately making it a tie game at 5-5 to close out the first inning.
After a few pitches, Quinn was subbed out for Hector Alejandro, another freshman. He set the tone for the second inning, with both teams held to small hits each time they were due to hit. UMass, anxious to reclaim the lead, fired back at Alejandro for several pitches before Cole Chudoba relieved Alejandro. The Minutemen were hitting strong, sitting at a 9-5 lead. However, Chudoba couldn’t put it a limit on it and by the end of the third the score was 11-5.
If UConn’s quick comeback for a 5-5 was impressive, the rest of the game was a stunning display of overcoming adversity. UMass was stunned, and it was a dominant Hook C win.
Zach Bushling was determined to come home, no matter what it took. From being hit by a pitch to stealing second and then finally advancing to third on a wild pitch, Bushling was brought in by Christian Fedko’s single.
Despite a change in Minutemen pitching, David Smith took one for the team as well which moved Fedko and Matt Donlan who were already on base. This was another pitch that promoted a chain reaction, and Simmons was clutch for activating the scoring run. His single brought in three runs for Hook C.
Simmons then came home on a Stock single. Dana’s single sent Stock to third before Dana stole second base. A recurring trend for the Huskies has been just being in the right place, which would be the batter’s box, at the right time to do the right thing, hit hard.
Bushling was in perfect position to give UConn its first lead of the game: Dana and Stock were still on base and he was ready to swing. Bushling hit a double to add two to the score and put UConn up 12-11.
For his second homerun of the game, Huber hit another and brought in Bushling along with him and added on two runs to the recently claimed lead. The third inning was a season-high record of nine runs in the inning.
Chudoba kept the top of the fourth inning in UConn’s favor, running through the first half to maintain the lead and get the Huskies back to their regularly scheduled scoring run.
A few singles and a walk from Fedko, Smith and Simmons respectively set up Padilla for a very productive triple in which everyone but the batter made it back home. Padilla would have to wait for Stock’s fly ball to run in to home base. Singles from Bushling, Huber and Donlan collectively contributed to another pair of runs and UConn ended the fourth inning 20-11.
The score remained steady through the top of the sixth before the Hook C whipped up six more tallies to its score. A Dana double followed by a third base steal allowed him to score when Bushling hit a single. Bushling scored on a single from Fedko that sent him running home. Smith’s triple brought in Fedko and Donlan before Smith came in on an error and the unearned run earned the Huskies their 25th mark on the game while keeping the Minutemen at 11.
The bottom of the seventh was the last bit of action for the game, kicked off by Zach Stephenson’s bold triple. Chris Brown pinch hit for Bushling, and wasn’t about to let Huber have all of the homerun fun. Brown’s homer added two as he and Stephenson came in.
A series of walks handed UConn its next win as Simmons just made it to the diamond and in the process, advanced the runners in front of him. Huber was the one to make it home and solidify the 28-11 win over UMass, credited to Chudoba for pitching the majority of the game. The next inning and a half were just filling time before notching the season-high 28 runs.
In a less suspenseful way but still as equally dramatic was UConn’s fifth win of the season where the team didn’t allow the opponent to score any runs. The Huskies ran into Chestnut Hill for a road game, scaring the Eagles on sight with Ian Cooke starting on the mound.
Singles from Donlan and Fedko set up Donlan to run in at the top of the second for the first scoring play of the game. Scoring wouldn’t resume for another inning when the Huskies were back up at bat in the third early off of a Padilla double, eventually scoring off of an uncontrollable pitch. This had Dana and Stock moving around the bases before making it to fourth when Donlan singled. UConn would hold onto the 4-0 lead through the seventh inning, keeping the Eagles from flying.
A few singles in the top of the seventh added up to another run, with Bushling headlining the score off of a double that brought in Padilla. Scoring had yet to begin for BC, and it wasn’t about to start in the eighth inning. However, UConn still had some work to do.
The Eagles made it easy for the Huskies, handing them several walks. After a dropped fly ball, both Smith and Stephenson both scored. Padilla, who made it on base as a result of the error, came in on a single from Stock and called game at eight runs.
Well, Ian Cooke had a big influence on it as well. Cooke pitched for eight innings, making it a career-high. He had seven strikeouts while doing so and only allowed one hit, but it wasn’t able to generate any runs for the Eagles.
Wednesday’s win is UConn’s 18th road win of the season, and brings the Hook C record to 30-7. Both victories this week should prove to be excellent preparation for the Huskies to jump back into Big East play against the Villanova Wildcats.
The teams will face off this weekend in a three-game series at Elliot Ballpark. Historically, this puts UConn at an incredible advantage as Villanova is 5-20 in Connecticut. However, the team is also coming off of a huge 6-5 win over the University of Delaware. Currently, the Wildcats are 14-18-1 on their season and fifth in the Big East while UConn is first.
The first pitch is slated for 6:05 p.m. on Friday, 2:05 p.m. on Saturday and then at 1:05 p.m. on Sunday. All games will be available for streaming on FloSports.