There won’t be many tests that are harder for the UConn Huskies than this upcoming Big East matchup.
They’ve certainly had some battles this season and they’ve not been very easy. The Huskies have had to get right back to action after some tough losses against Boston College and Columbia. But they’ve continued to take care of business and with an 18-4 record in their last 22 games of college baseball action, they’re ready to once again strive for victory against a tough opponent.
Except the challenge sitting in front of them will be one of the toughest of the season.
That’s Xavier, a ballclub that’s incredibly balanced with a dangerous offense and an even filthier pitching rotation that’s had batters stunned at the plate. Those intangibles have led the Musketeers to an 11-game winning streak, the best mark in college baseball, which is even more impressive considering the way that they started off their season. It included being swept in a four-game series by a top team in Oregon on their home turf along with another loss at Louisville. That’s not exactly how teams look to start their season off, but Xavier has rebounded in a big way and haven’t lost a game since March 25.
As I stated previously, their pitching staff is fantastic and with players like Ethan Bosacker pitching the way he has, it’s hard to win ball games against this Musketeers squad. A 4-1 record, 55 strikeouts and a .225 opponent batting average have all helped to define his season. Oh, and how could I forget that 2.83 ERA, the second lowest mark in the Big East conference. When you’re looking to silence the strong offensive lineup that UConn has touted into games, that’s exactly what you need to bring to the table.
The team’s pitching depth may not be perfect down the line, but they’ve certainly got some other weapons to counter the Hook C with like Brant Alazaus, a player that’s held opponents to a a .219 average this season, and an impressive bullpen with pieces like Justin Loer, a left-hander that’s made 16 appearances with a 2.03 ERA in 2023. Its depth helped them grab 23 total strikeouts in their first Big East series against Butler.
That sweep of the Bulldogs also saw Xavier collect 25 hits, helping to show the balance of a lineup that looks to give UConn’s arms some trouble. They can kill teams through many different routes whether that’s the way of the long bomb through players like Matt DePrey who is second in the Big East with 10 home runs, or through purely getting on base as shown by players like Jack Housinger leading the conference in walks.
Furthermore, they’re a tricky team to contain with impressive speed on the bases. No one exemplifies this statistic more on the Musketeers than Andrew Walker, a speedy left fielder who is fourth in the conference in stolen bases. It’s helped them score an average of 6.7 runs per game in 2023. But the question remains as to whether that explosive offense can remain consistently dangerous against the Huskies, a team that has shown that they too are ready to combat anyone in college baseball.
Can hitters like Dominic Freeberger, Jake Studley and Luke Broadhurst crack this Xavier lineup? Will UConn’s bullpen be able to contain this scary Xavier lineup especially in a close game where the stakes reach their peak? In a primetime Big East baseball series, all eyes will be on these two rosters, vying for the top spot in a competitive baseball conference.