Baseball: What a Start(s)

Sophomore Chris Winkel (11) at the plate over the weekend (Jon Sammis/The Daily Campus)

Major League Baseball defines a Quality Start for a pitcher as “when he pitches at least six innings and allows three earned runs or fewer.” That definition sums up what a starting pitchers job is, prevent runs and get outs, but doesn’t tell the whole story.

There can be different kinds of quality. The Great Value brand foods you can find at Walmart are fine enough, but no one is ever going to pick Hydrox cookies over Oreo. Just because there’s a good deal on an aisle seat on a plane doesn’t mean you would turn down an offer to fly first class.

The quality of starts that UConn has been getting from their starting pitchers are above quality. They’ve been tremendous.  A start by a UConn pitcher lately has been like flying first class on an all expense paid trip to Cancun while getting a foot rub and eating quadruple stuff peanut butter Oreos that are handfed to you by the women of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

After Chase Gardner threw seven scoreless innings against Hartford on Saturday, UConn starting pitchers have gone 35 consecutive innings without allowing a run. The last time a UConn starter surrendered a run was March 24 against South Florida in Tampa. The Bulls ended up topping the Huskies 8-4. Since then, UConn has a record of 4-1 and outscored their opponents 20-4.

Chase Gardner went 5.2 innings against USF in the rubber match of the series against USF, and topped himself by going seven strong innings against Hartford on Saturday. The junior retired the last 14 batters he faced to advance to 2-0 on the season with a 3.09 earned run average.

Jeff Kirsten spent the last two seasons at Sierra College but was a major part of UConn history last Tuesday as he dominated Boston College at the plate to help earn head coach Jim Penders’ his 500 career victory. The junior hit the strike zone at a 59 percent rate and held BC to just two hits to earn his first career win in a UConn uniform.  

After making the First Team All-Conference last season, Tim Cate has lived up to his billing as the Huskies’ ace. Cate is currently seven strikeouts away from tying Anthony Kay’s program record 263. During the Huskies home opener on Thursday, Cate went 6.2 innings and struck out out six to earn his third win of the season.

Mason Feole had the hard task of following up Cate’s performance the next game and surpassed all expectations. Feole struck out a career-high 13 batters over seven strong scoreless innings. Feole really found his groove in the mid-innings, at one point retiring nine straight batters.


Bryan Lambert is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at bryan.lambert@uconn.edu.