While UConn baseball won’t be able to show off their talents in front of their loyal fans in Storrs just yet, it’s not all bad news, especially when you’re headed somewhere as beautiful as Hawaii.
“We had some great guarantees and budget-wise it makes sense. It looks crazy, but Hawaii is giving us a really nice paycheck to go out there and play. It could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the guys to see that part of the world. So, we took it,” coach Jim Penders told The Day before the season.
Over the weekend, it will of course be more than just sunshine and rainbows for the Hook C. They have to continue to take care of business as they carry on their momentum from an impressive series win over FAU. That series saw everything click for the Huskies, other than some minor late-inning issues in game one. Whether it was continued production from players like Dominic Freeberger or dominant outings from Ian Cooke, it’s essential that they replicate those types of results in another weekend series.
When you take a look at the Rainbow Warriors, they’re certainly going to be one of the toughest opponents that UConn has faced this season, especially with the roll they’re on. Highlighted by a dominant 9-3 win over No. 18 Maryland, they’ll now head to Honolulu to defend their turf against another impressive opponent and they’ve got the talent to give the Huskies a tough time.
The highlight of this team is their outfield with Jared Quandt leading this team at the plate with a .464 average, three home runs and a 1.413 ops. Thus far, he’s looked like a top 50 hitter in baseball and if he continues to rake against Connecticut, he’ll undoubtedly cause some problems. The Rainbow Warriors continue to showcase some terrific talent in the outfield with players like Matt Wong and Ben Zeigler-Namoa. Just like Quandt, both have been impressive at the plate and they’ll continue to add to a loaded outfield.
However, Hawaii does more than just contribute at the plate. Their .981 fielding percentage ranks No. 40 in the nation and they own a 5-1 record in games where they haven’t made an error this season. That makes the margin of error for UConn even slimmer and gives them even more reason to play at their best.
On the mound, Alexandre Giroux has been the most dominant of his peers with an excellent 1.69 ERA in just over 10 innings pitched. Followed by Giroux, Randy Abshier has also been a valuable arm for the Rainbow Warriors and with both slated to see action in this four game series, it’s essential that UConn executes at the plate.
The big question remains with the bullpen. While the Huskies looked effective in their last series, this Hawaii offense is a huge test for this team with some impressive talent across the field. Will they be able to contain their opponents’ star studded outfield that’s become a core part of their offense and continue the terrific play of the Husky starters? It’s imperative that they do so for a series win.
As UConn sports have the potential for an entertaining weekend, the Hook C can only add to that statement with another phenomenal weekend of baseball. As sports like UConn basketball compete in the east, UConn baseball will compete in the west.