After taking two out of three games at home against Villanova and snapping their winning streak of 12 games, the No. 15 UConn baseball team is shipping up to Boston on Tuesday, where they take on Northeastern before coming home for a battle with Yale on Wednesday.
The Huskies (32-8 overall, 8-1 Big East) have enjoyed quite the successful season, typically obliterating their competition thanks to their big bats and lockdown pitching. Their team ERA of 2.95 ranks fourth in the nation, and the Huskies are slashing a combined .299/.393/.494 at this point in the year.
Leading the UConn bats is senior Erik Stock, who is currently hitting .422 with a 1.188 OPS through 40 games. He currently has 113 total bases, 23 more than any other Husky. Another one of the most important contributors in this deadly Connecticut lineup is graduate student Casey Dana, who leads the team in RBIs with 40, including both in UConn’s walk-off win against Villanova on Sunday. Dana boasts a .937 OPS as well.
While Connecticut head coach Jim Penders opts for his three man rotation of Austin Peterson, Pat Gallagher and Enzo Stefanoni over the weekend, his midweek pitching choices are always up in the air. This past week against UMass and Boston College, the majority of the innings thrown were credited to Cole Chudoba and Ian Cooke, who each earned wins.
While Cooke started Wednesday’s game, Chudoba came in to relieve both Braden Quinn and Hector Alejandro, who made it a combined 2.1 innings, allowing 11 earned runs to start the game. Expect Cooke to get the start in one of the two games, with a bullpen day or a Chudoba start in the other.
Northeastern (19-20-1 overall, 4-9 CAA) has had a very up-and-down season. After sweeping then-No. 8 NC State and taking one of three from then-No. 18 Clemson University, the Huskies embarked on a six-game winning streak. Since that ended in late March, Northeastern has gone 7-13, dropping series to squads like William and Mary, James Madison and most recently High Point.
Following their rotation schedule, Northeastern will likely have a bullpen day. There are a few solid relievers for the Huskies, and the team ERA sits at a solid 3.73. For a UConn team that’s been held to four runs or less in each of their past three games, this could be a tough game to have the offense bounce back.
While the NU pitching staff has been solid, their offense has been less effective. Freshman Mike Sirota is the only player on the team with an OPS over .833, sitting at .922. The team batting average sits at .238, a whole 61 points lower than UConn’s.
Yale (17-14 overall, 7-8 Ivy League) have had a streaky season as well en route to their record just above .500. They are currently coming off of being swept by rival Columbia and are looking to bounce back in a big way against a ranked UConn team Wednesday.
Yale typically has a bullpen day for their midweek games, throwing five different guys at Quinnipiac this past Wednesday, with all of them not out there for more than 2.2 innings. Expect a similar showing against the Huskies. The Bulldogs’ team ERA of 6.21 on the season is lackluster to say the least, so if the UConn bats haven’t completely woken up by then, this would be a great opportunity to do so.
At the plate, the Bulldogs are led by junior Jimmy Hatfield, who is slashing .343/.493/.602 on the year. He also leads the team with eight home runs and 30 RBI. If there’s one guy that the Huskies need to watch out for on Wednesday, it’s Hatfield. In his last game against Columbia, he went 2-for-3 with two walks.
Tuesday’s game will be at Northeastern at 2:30 p.m., and will be broadcast on NESN and Mixlr. Wednesday’s game will be at Elliot Ballpark in Storrs at 4:05 p.m., and will be broadcast on FloSports, ESPN 97.9 and Mixlr.