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UConn Baseball Weekend Preview: Stetson Invitational

UConn will get three games in against Western Michigan, Stetson and Saint Joseph’s.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

While the series was closely contested, UConn Baseball (4-3) took one out of three from a series with the Texas Longhorns last weekend.

The offense, still missing two of the Huskies' most important pieces in outfielder John Toppa and third baseman Willy Yahn, left something to be desired after just 18 hits on the weekend, but they ran into two great arms on Friday and Saturday in Morgan Cooper and Kyle Johnston.

UConn's pitching has been phenomenal so far. Through two starts each, Tim Cate and Wills Montgomerie have proven to be a top-rate one-two punch at the top of the Husky rotation.

Cate threw only 3 23 innings before leaving due to discomfort in his throwing shoulder, but Montgomerie pitched 6 13 shutout innings on Saturday afternoon, allowing only four hits- all singles.

UConn returns to Florida this weekend, as a part of the Westin Lake Mary Stetson Invitational in DeLand, Florida. The Huskies will play Western Michigan on Friday, Stetson on Saturday and Saint Joseph’s on Sunday.

Western Michigan (2-5) is coming off a 1-2 weekend against Eastern Tennessee State. They were all high-scoring affairs, with losses of 12-7 on Friday, 12-8 on Saturday and 11-1 in favor of Western Michigan on Sunday.

The Huskies can expect Jacob Piechota (1-1, 7.88 ERA) on the mound from Western Michigan.

The Broncos are strong offensively, hitting .302 BA/.384 SLG/.453 OBP. The team has six home runs already this year, led by Tanner Allison's four. Grant Miller leads the team in batting average at .500.

Stetson (4-5) is coming off a 2-1 weekend with three one-run games against High Point and a midweek loss against Bethune-Cookman. The Hatters picked up their wins on Saturday and Sunday.

Jack Perkins (0-1, 3.29 ERA) is listed as the probable starter against the Huskies.

Stetson is much more soft-hitting than Western Michigan-- only two players have more than two extra-base hits so far this year. Three of Chris Tidwell’s four hits in 2017 are doubles and Jack Gonzalez (.385/.467/.769) has two doubles and a home run. The team slashes .248/.345/.341 and has just one player that has appeared in every game that is hitting higher than .275 in Jorge Arenas (.286/.324/.343).

Sunday’s opponent, Saint Joseph’s (0-6), was 0-3 in a tournament hosted by Old Dominion last weekend, losing 16-9 to Kentucky followed by close games to Delaware and Old Dominion.

The Hawks have listed Pat Vanderslice (0-1, 16.50 ERA) as the probable starter.

In the offensive realm, Saint Joseph's is a case of have and have-not. They have four full-time players who are hitting above .280, the remaining five are below .230.

Matt Maul (.364/.462/.500) leads the team in batting average and on-base percentage, while Dominic Cuoci (.360/.370/.680) holds the lead in slugging percentage and is not far off in batting average. Cal Jadacki (.308/.357/.654) leads the team in runs and is tied with Cucoi in total bases.

UConn will begin the Invitational on Friday afternoon at 1 p.m. against Western Michigan. They will play on Saturday night at 7 p.m. against the host in Stetson and finish it out with an 11 a.m. first pitch against Saint Joseph’s on Sunday. Each game will be broadcast on WHUS 91.7 FM.