Last weekend, the UConn baseball team played the Ohio State Buckeyes four times in three Floridian ballparks. The Hook C will stay in one place this weekend, Evans Diamond in Berkeley, California, as they participate in the Cal Baseball Classic against the Cal Poly Mustangs and the California Golden Bears. The Huskies will play Cal Poly once on Friday, Feb. 24, before playing against Cal on Feb. 25 at 5 p.m. EST and Feb. 26 at 4 p.m. EST.
UConn (2-2) split their four-game series with the Buckeyes to begin the regular season, getting shut out in the first game while winning both contests in Sarasota, Florida. Even though they were shut out in the season opener, the Huskies plated 22 runs on 31 hits with six home runs and two triples throughout the series.
Although no one from the Hook C won a Big East weekly award, Korey Morton made the Big East Weekly Honor Roll after posting a 1.035 OPS with one home run and six RBIs in four games. Morton brings star power to the outfield while Dominic Freeberger and Ben Huber, two infielders who bring a lot of power, make up the rest of the heart of the order. Freeberger has just as many RBIs as Morton while posting a .286 batting average and a .992 OPS, already making an impact after transferring from UNC Asheville. Huber, also known as the “Albino Rhino,” leads the team with two home runs despite his .167 batting average and .711 OPS.
No announcement has been made via their official Twitter page about this weekend’s rotation as of press release, so expect the Huskies to run with the same starting rotation from last week. It starts with Ian Cooke, the sophomore right-hander who pitched six solid innings while allowing three runs with eight strikeouts in a loss. Following him would be Jack Sullivan, who earned the win after allowing two runs in 5.1 efficient innings in last Saturday’s outing.
The rotation shifts from the homegrown products to the transfers as southpaw Andrew Sears would get the nod for the third game. Even without a decision, the Rhode Island College transfer went five innings and allowed two runs in his UConn debut. This also means that righthander Stephen Quigley, who pitched the final game of the series, will most likely not start. Even though he has a 7.36 ERA after allowing three runs in 3.2 innings, do not be surprised if the Wheaton College transfer enters from the bullpen at some point this weekend. Although their rotation is solid, having a strong bullpen is going to be important if the Huskies want to leave the Golden State with at least two wins.
The Mustangs (2-1) are coming off a series win against the Missouri State Bears, one where the winning team scored at least 10 runs in each game, and are hoping to resume a suspended battle against the San Jose State Spartans at some point this season. In that contest suspended due to darkness, Cal Poly found themselves up one heading into the ninth inning.
Offensively, Jake Steels has made an immediate impact on the basepaths with all three of the team’s stolen bases and three RBIs on seven hits. While the Allan Hancock College transfer brought the speed, Evan Cloyd brought the power at the plate in the first series of his collegiate career. Across three games, Cloyd batted .455 with five hits, one home run and five RBIs while posting a 1.409 OPS. CSU Bakersfield transfer Aaron Casillas puts runners in scoring position immediately as three of his six hits are doubles, which has turned into five RBIs and a 1.283 OPS.
The rotation is led by Bryce Warrecker, who made his fifth career start last Friday and allowed two runs in five innings of work. Cal Poly picked up the win behind his efforts, but the junior righty is likely going to pitch the series opener earlier Friday afternoon. With that in mind, expect Travis Weston and his 11.57 ERA to take the bump against UConn in the second game of the invitational for the Mustangs.
The host Golden Bears (3-1) enter with a lot of momentum after knocking off the No. 2 Stanford Cardinal with a four-run first inning on Tuesday at Sunken Diamond. Prior to that nonconference contest, Cal took two out of three against the Houston Cougars, shutting them out in the season opener.
Carson Crawford, Caleb Lomavita and Rodney Green Jr. make up a three-headed offensive core for the Golden Bears. Crawford hit his first career grand slam against the Cardinal and leads the team with a 1.413 OPS as well as eight RBIs. Lomavita leads the team with two home runs as part of his eight base hits with five RBIs to boot. Green Jr. is a speedster on the basepaths with two stolen bases, two doubles and four RBIs.
Perennial ace Ian May pitched eight innings of shutout baseball with seven strikeouts and a walk in the season opener. With him likely pitching the opener against the Mustangs, expect the Huskies to go up against one of Paulshawn Pasqualotto or Connor Sullivan. Pasqualotto got the nod in the second game of the series and pitched one inning in his first appearance since 2021. Sullivan went 4.1 innings in relief in that same game, allowing one run on five hits with four strikeouts. Regardless of who starts the second game, the Huskies will likely face Joe Williams in each team’s final game of the invitational. Even though he has a save, the graduate student from Pomona-Pitzer College started the Golden Bears’ upset win against Stanford and kept them off the board in two innings.
First pitch for the Hook C is scheduled for Friday at 10 p.m. EST on Cal’s Pac-12 Network. Fans who cannot watch the game live can tune into MIXLR.