The No. 19 University of Connecticut baseball team will look to extend their win streak as they begin a four-game road trip in the Empire State, starting with a midweek bout versus the Columbia Lions in the Big Apple on Tuesday.
The 20-6 Huskies have been one of the hottest teams in college baseball, having gone 17-3 over their previous 20 games, including four straight victories entering their next game against the Lions. Over those four games, in which Connecticut defeated the Hartford Hawks before a three-game sweep of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, the team has outscored their opponents by an eyebrow-raising 41 runs (48-7). The team can credit its recent success to their performances in every aspect of the game, with the Husky offense, pitching and defense combining to make life extremely difficult for their opponents.
UConn’s offense has done a tremendous job moving the line and creating run-scoring opportunities up-and-down the lineup. Entering Tuesday’s game, six Huskies with at least 20 at-bats have batting averages of .300 or higher, including Dominic Freeberger, Ben Huber and Jake Studley, all three of whom are hitting higher than .340. Freeberger and Huber especially have led the HookC offense in the early games of the season. A graduate student in his first season in Storrs after a four-year career at UNC-Asheville, Freeberger leads UConn in most of the major offensive statistics: batting average (.385), home runs (six), runs batted in (33), hits (40), runs (29), on-base percentage (.492), and walks (19). Meanwhile, Huber has slashed .346 with five homers and 26 RBIs through 26 games and has been an extra-base machine, as he currently leads Connecticut with 14 doubles, six more than his next-closest teammate.
Though the HookC has yet to officially announce their starter for Tuesday’s game, chances are that none of Ian Cooke, Andrew Sears or Jack Sullivan will draw the assignment after starting each of the three games in the team’s UMBC series. It will likely be Stephen Quigley, who takes the bump for Jim Penders’ team after starting four games earlier in the season. A righty from Halifax, Massachusetts, Quigley has appeared in five games for Connecticut with four starts, going 2-1 with a 3.97 earned run average and 21 strikeouts through 22.2 innings of work. If it’s not Quigley who starts for UConn versus the Lions, Garrett Coe or Thomas Ellisen are candidates to draw the assignment.
Columbia will welcome the Huskies to New York City boasting an overall record of 12-11. Unlike Connecticut, the Lions have already started conference play and have gone 4-2 through six Ivy League games, tying them with four other teams for the top spot in the conference early in the season. Though the team lost their most recent game entering Tuesday’s contest, the Lions had been hot, having won the four games prior to their latest matchup. That includes a 15-1 romping of Cornell on Saturday in which three different Lions smacked homers in the winning effort.
As a team, the Columbia offense has compiled an impressive .309 batting average as a team, aided heavily by the team’s top three batting average leaders. Griffin Palfrey (.392), Hayden Schott (.389) and Andy Blake (.375) are all batting higher than .375, with three other Lions contributing batting averages about .300. All three have driven in 20 or more runs, while Schott and Blake are tied for the team lead with 10 doubles each. Schott has also turned around nine homers to pace Columbia. Other players to keep an eye on include Seth Dardar and Weston Eberly, both of whom are batting over .300 on the season and are first and second on the team in RBIs with 25 and 26, respectively.
Neither of the Lions top-two starters in Joe Sheets and Andy Leon will be available on Tuesday after the pair started a game apiece in Columbia’s previous series against Cornell. That means that JD Ogden is likely positioned to start for his team following a one-inning relief appearance on Sunday. The junior has started the third-most games on his team with four starts, going 0-2 with a 11.09 ERA over 18.2 innings. His 17 strikeouts rank third on the team, though he has also given up the most runs on Columbia’s pitching staff as 23 earned runs have crossed the plate with him on the bump. If head coach Brett Boretti decides to go with a different arm, Dane Miller, Jagger Edwards and Thomas Santana are all possible alternatives.
With a scheduled first pitch time of 3:30 p.m., Tuesday’s tilt will take place on Robertson Field at Satow Stadium in New York City. Fans can stream the game live with ESPN+ or can tune into the live audio on MIXLR.