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UConn Baseball Weekend Preview: East Carolina

The Huskies will open up conference play with the first of two series against the Pirates.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Last weekend, UConn Baseball (13-9) won its final non-conference series, against Seton Hall, splitting two one-run games on Friday and Saturday before a 4-0 shutout victory on Sunday.

UConn has two shutouts on the season both of which occurred on days Mason Feole started.

The pitching staff allowed just four runs over the weekend on 12 hits but had a problem with control. The Huskies walked 21 batters, 10 on Sunday. They made pitches when they had to, but walking seven batters per game could prove dangerous against stiffer competition.

First baseman Tyler Gnesda has quietly been a big part of the offense. He is riding a nine-game hitting streak and has been on base for others to notch RBI, as he as six runs over the streak.

Shortstop Anthony Prato has reached base safely in 12 of his last 13 games as well, with five multi-hit games.

After a win against Fairfield on Wednesday, turn their focus to conference play with the first of two three-game series against East Carolina (18-8).

The Huskies and Pirates played two series last season as well, with UConn finishing 1-5, getting one win in Greenville before getting swept at home.

ECU was ranked in the preseason and also the preseason pick for the conference title, but the Pirates were swept by Mercer two weekends ago. They rebounded with a sweep of Towson last weekend and a victory in their midweek game against Liberty on Tuesday.

AAC Preseason Co-Pitcher of the Year Evan Kruczynski has an ankle injury and will not be pitching on Friday. Chris Holba (3-0, 1.82 ERA) will be filling in. He has not made a start since March 7, when he allowed four runs, two earned, in two innings against College of Charleston. He has a .236 BAA and has 36 strikeouts against just six walks in 29 2/3 innings.

Trey Benton (3-0, 2.27) will get the ball on Saturday after a strong start on March 25 against Towson. He allowed two runs on six hits across seven innings, with 10 strikeouts and a walk. He leads the Pirates with a .186 ERA and in strikeouts with 42.

Sunday’s start belongs to Jake Agnos (1-0, 2.70). He allowed four runs, three of which were earned, in six innings against Towson on March 24.

He has the ability to shut down an offense, throwing five no-hit innings against Western Carolina with 11 strikeouts.

The Pirates are very strong offensively. Only one of their 10 regulars has a batting average below .280.

Eric Tyler (.371 AVG/.419 OBP/.514 SLG) is second on the team in average but leads the Pirates in hits and is second in slugging percentage as well as batting average.

Spencer Brickhouse (.337/.391/.604) provides the power. He has seven home runs and 12 extra-base hits, both team-highs. He also leads East Carolina in slugging percentage and runs.

Everyone does something well and no one is best on the team in too many categories, giving the UConn pitching staff a tall task in shutting down this lineup.

The Huskies head down to Greenville to get the series going on Friday at 6:30 p.m., followed by a 4 p.m. Saturday first pitch. The series will conclude on Sunday at 12 p.m.