After a dominant performance against the No. 20 Boston College Eagles on Wednesday, the No. 15 University of Connecticut baseball team will look to stay hot as they begin a three-game weekend series at Elliot Ballpark, where they will take on a conference foe in the Georgetown Hoyas beginning on Friday.
The Huskies have been one of the better teams in college baseball with an overall record of 27-10, resulting in an impressive win percentage of .730. While their record may indicate that Connecticut has been a dominant force that has rolled through their schedule with relative ease, the Hook C has been tested as of late and has done a solid job responding to adversity. In their latest three-game series versus the Xavier Musketeers, UConn edged out their opponent by one run to secure a 7-6 victory in the series opener. That was before they stunned the Musketeers in the series finale by scoring four runs in the top of the ninth inning to take the lead en route to a 11-9 victory, securing the series win. After falling to Northeastern in an uncharacteristic performance on Tuesday, the Huskies responded in a major way by mercy-ruling Boston College on Wednesday, winning the game by a final score of 12-1.
Connecticut’s offense has been one of the most well-rounded units in the country, as the team has six players with at least 40 at-bats who are hitting above .300. At the top of that list is Luke Broadhurst, who has been a force for head coach Jim Penders in his final season of eligibility. Broadhurst, a graduate student, transferred to UConn following a storied career at Eastern Connecticut State University. He had actually committed to UConn as a freshman for the 2017-2018 season but transferred to Eastern following three semesters at the school and maintaining all four years of his baseball eligibility. The reunion between Broadhurst and the Huskies has been especially sweet: his .368 batting average leads the Hook C, while he ranks at or near the top of his team with nine home runs, nine doubles, 36 runs batted in, 21 walks, 32 runs and a .487 on-base percentage.
Other than Broadhurst, UConn has plenty of players to note at the dish. Another graduate transfer from Wheaton College, Jake Studley has surprised many by dominating pitchers with a .357 batting average and six home runs this season. With 10 long balls and 44 runs batted in, Ben Huber has been a run-producing machine for the Huskies while Dominic Freeberger has done his best Huber impression with a .351 batting average to go with seven homers and 41 RBIs of his own. The well-rounded performance of the Huskies’ offense has resulted in a team batting average of .305 and on-base percentage of .416, both well outpacing the batting average and on-base percentages of their opponents.
Though no official announcement has been made, it will more than likely be Ian Cooke on the bump for the Hook C to begin the series on Friday. The Big East Preseason Pitcher of the Year, Cooke is 3-2 in eight starts but would like to lower his 4.81 earned run average with a solid performance against the Hoyas. His 43 innings pitched and 49 strikeouts are both tops on this Connecticut pitching staff. Behind Cooke would be the southpaw Andrew Sears, who owns a 1-0 record with an ERA of 5.71. Sears’ 42 strikeouts are second to only Cooke, while his .248 opponent batting average is the best among UConn’s starters. Jack Sullivan would then likely draw the assignment for the series finale. In eight starts, the tall right-hander is 4-1 with a 5.70 ERA.
Georgetown will travel to Storrs as winners of three straight games and six of their last eight contests, resulting in an overall record of 22-16. All three of the team’s latest wins have all been dominant performances: the Hoyas earned a solid 8-3 win over Creighton on Saturday before returning on Sunday to dismantle the Bluejays by a final score of 13-1. Mount St. Mary’s was the team’s latest challenger, and the Hoyas handled the Mountaineers with ease, defeating their opponent 19-2 over a full nine innings. In the win, Georgetown’s Ubaldo Lopez had an exceptional performance at the plate where he tallied four base knocks on the day, driving in a game-high seven runs while scoring three on his own.
Both Lopez and teammate Jake Hyde have combined to form quite the two-headed monster in the middle of the Hoyas lineup. A graduate student who originally attended Dartmouth University before transferring to Georgetown, Lopez has hit .369 and leads his team with 11 doubles and 41 runs scored. Along the way, he has smacked 14 home runs and driven in 42 runs. Meanwhile, Hyde is tied for the team lead in home runs with Lopez as he too has smacked 14 long balls to go with a team-high 44 runs batted in. On the season, Hyde is batting .358 and his 54 hits are tops on the Hoyas. As a unit, Georgetown has collectively hit .281 on the season, which may not be the most impressive mark compared to a team like UConn, though the Hoyas’ pitching prowess more than makes up for the team’s offensive deficits.
It will likely be Cody Jensen who draws the start in the series opener for Georgetown after he pitched in the series opener against Creighton last Friday, giving him a full week of rest. This season, the graduate student is 5-1 with a 6.14 earned run average. Jensen allowed 11 runs to score in the Creighton matchup, inflating his ERA drastically in the process. After Jensen would be the Hoyas’ two best starters this season, starting with Andrew Williams. A left-handed sophomore from Atlanta, Williams is 3-3 this season but boasts a solid 3.83 ERA and has struck out 46 batters through 47 innings. Jake Bloss would then presumably be the starter for Sunday’s series finale and may be the toughest test that this Connecticut offense faces all weekend. In eight starts, Bloss owns a record of 4-3 but has shut down opposing offenses with an ERA of 2.68. He currently leads all Georgetown pitchers with 53 strikeouts.
Action will take place from Elliot Ballpark in Storrs, Connecticut from Friday to Sunday. Friday’s series opener is scheduled to take place at 6:05 p.m., while game two on Saturday has a 5:05 p.m. listed first pitch. The series finale will be played at 11:35 a.m. on Sunday. All three games can be streamed on UConn+, or fans can tune into the live audio via MIXLR.