The opening weekend of the baseball season didn't go quite the way that last year's Big East champions envisioned. The Huskies couldn't find their way into the win column at the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte, Florida, losing to Ohio State 8-2, Indiana State 3-0, and Auburn 7-3.
In Game One, UConn struck first as they put up two runs in the top of the first. Sophomore third basemen Bryan Daniello led off the game with a single, and was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by fellow second-year player Vinny Siena. Catcher Max McDowell kept the momentum going, hitting Daniello home with an RBI single to get the Huskies their first run of the year.
After McDowell got thrown out trying to take third on a passed ball, first basemen Bobby Melly hit a solo homerun over the right field fence to take a quick 2-0 lead. The homerun was Melly's first homer of his UConn career after 240 at-bats in a stellar freshman season that saw him hit .283.
Unfortunately that was the last run support Husky starter Jordan Tabakman would receive as he ran into trouble after two scoreless innings, allowing a grand slam to Buckeyes third basemen Jacob Bosiokovic in the bottom of the third. Tabakman, the transfer from North Carolina-Chapel Hill, ended his day after five and two-third innings, giving up six earned runs and six hits while striking out six and walking two. For Ohio State, Greg Greve picked up the win going six innings and retiring the last 11 Husky batters that he faced.
Saturday brought more of the same from the UConn bats. Indiana State starting pitcher David Stagg was dealing as he went seven shutout innings, striking out six and allowing just five base runners. For the Huskies, Big East tournament hero, and Berlin, Connecticut native Anthony Marzi took the hill and had some issues with control walking five through four and two-third innings, but allowing just one run. Freshman Anthony Kay took the ball after him and gave an admirable three-inning performance in his first appearance holding the Sycamores to just one run. The only two UConn hits came courtesy of Sienna and sophomore Cal State Fullerton transfer Nico Darras.
The weekend ended on a sour note as the Huskies dropped the weekend finale to the Auburn Tigers 7-3. Darras led the team with the first multi-hit performance of the season notching two singles including his first RBI as a member of the squad. Brian Ward got the start, replacing last year's ace Carson Cross, who is out for the season with a shoulder injury, as the weekend starter and went three and two-thirds innings giving up two earned runs on seven hits, striking out two and walking two. Ward was out-dueled by Auburn freshman Keegan Thomson who pitched five and two-thirds innings of one run ball, allowing just two hits and striking out nine.
It was a tough weekend for the Husky ball club, but as we know the season is a marathon, not a sprint. The team is an extremely young one featuring just three seniors in Marzi, Ward, and shortstop Tom Verdi who is currently working his way back from an injury. Coach Penders' team will certainly have its ups and downs throughout the season, but it's an extremely talented bunch that should be ready to do some damage by conference play. UConn will look to rebound this weekend at the Baseball at the Beach Tournament in Conway, South Carolina where they will square off with Wichita State, George Mason, and Coastal Carolina.