UConn Baseball’s seven-member senior class came from five different states. Four came from a junior college while three spent all four years in a UConn uniform. One battled cancer and missed a season. They all will leave as valued members of the UConn family.
“They’re really strong character-wise,” head coach Jim Penders said. “I never have to worry about them off the field.”
Doug Domnarski was one of two members of this senior class to transfer from UConn Avery Point. In his first season in Storrs, he led the Huskies with 29 appearances, earning the role of lefty specialist. In 2017, he saw fewer opportunities but gave UConn 19 2/3 innings in 12 appearances.
“He’s a self-made guy in every sense of the word,” Penders said. “Nothing comes naturally to him but he’s a great Husky in the regard that he’s always working hard.”
Tyler Gnesda spent two years with UConn after playing at Cypress College. In 2016 he played designated hitter before replacing Bobby Melley at first base in 2017. He hit five career home runs for the Huskies.
“I’m going to miss seeing him every day,” Penders said.
Aaron Hill was one of three that played their whole career for UConn and served as a captain. He battled through injuries his senior year but still had a .333 on-base percentage in 40 games, making 28 starts.
“He shows up to the field every day working hard,” Penders said. “He’s a great kid and has great positive energy.”
Keith Krueger was another junior college transfer, coming from Grossmont College in California by way of Las Vegas, Nevada. He spent two years with the Huskies but missed a decent portion of 2016 with a broken bone in his wrist.
“He came across the country late in the process,” Penders said. “We couldn’t guarantee that we could admit him. He told us, ‘Semester starts on Monday, I’m going to come.’ He loaded up the car, drove across the country and found a place to live.”
Redshirt senior Alex LeFevre burst onto the scene his senior year after hitting well in limited opportunities as the backup catcher in 2016. He played two years at UConn Avery Point beffore coming to Storrs. His two career home runs drove in the game-winning runs in their final two regular season wins on May 18 at Dunkin’ Donuts Park and May 19 at J.O. Christian Field, both against East Carolina.
“He’s worked so hard for his opportunities,” Penders said. “Everybody roots for Frenchy.”
Ryan Radue spent five years at UConn, a period which includes overcoming lymphoma, which caused him to miss all of 2016. He came back this season and led the team in appearances while allowing batters to hit .224 against him.
“He’s taught me more about courage and more about being a man than anyone I’ve ever had,” Penders said. “He’s going to be successful in everything that he touches.”
Andrew Zapata came to Storrs from Long Island and was a high school teammate of freshman shortstop Anthony Prato. He finished with a 12-4 record in 38 appearances, 28 of which were starts. He notched 109 strikeouts in 151 1/3 innings of work.
“He won us a lot of games and this year it didn’t finish the way he wanted it to personally, but every single recruit that came up he had a smile, a handshake and a great tour for,” Penders said. “He had nothing but positive things to say.”