UConn baseball was passed over on Sunday as a regional host and will head to the Conway Regional for the NCAA Tournament hosted by Coastal Carolina. They will be joined by Washington and LIU Brooklyn.
UConn, at No. 16 in the RPI, along with Coastal Carolina, one slot back, are the two favorites and the Huskies have more than a fighter’s chance of coming out on top.
Jim Penders’ crew are the most battle tested against top teams in the regional, with 36 of their 56 games coming against RPI top-100 competition. Coastal Carolina has played 35 out of 59 their contests against the top 100 while Washington played just 25 out of 53 and LIU Brooklyn got in merely 15 out of 55, with no games against the top-50.
UConn has also been successful in those games, with a 22-13-1 record (.611 winning percentage) against Coastal Carolina’s 23-12 mark (.657), Washington’s 14-11 performance (.560) and LIU Brooklyn’s 7-8 season (.467).
As road warriors, UConn has also amassed a 22-13 record away from J.O. Christian Field, the second-highest road win total in Division I. The boys from Storrs are also 12-6 against top-100 teams on the road.
Washington has a solid traveling mark at 13-9 but are 3-5 against top-100 competition when they are the away team. LIU Brooklyn was 1-3 against top-100 teams while wearing the road grays and 12-15 overall.
The Chanticleers get to sleep in their own beds and stick to usual routines that led them to a 26-9 record at home although there is something to be said for that, UConn has a huge advantage out of the other three road teams.
On March 12, the Huskies went to Conway and played Coastal Carolina at Spring Brooks Stadium, the site of the regional. UConn took advantage of the small ballpark- just 320 feet down the lines, 365 feet in the alleys and 395 feet to center field- to score seven runs in the first and were able to hold on to a 12-10 win when the Chanticleers came roaring back with a five-run seventh to make it a two-run game.
The Huskies have been here before and they have won here before. Jeff Kersten, who will start should UConn win at least one game, has pitched off the mound before, as have both big guns out of the bullpen in PJ Poulin and Jacob Wallace.
That comfort and knowledge of your surroundings is an asset that the other road teams do not have.
Washington has only crossed the Mississippi River once before this weekend and while LIU Brooklyn went to nearby Charleston, they have not experienced what UConn has. Everything came crashing down for the Huskies after a hot start against a tremendous offensive team and they did what they had to do to get the victory.
Having the confidence of knowing you have already done something before can really help you do it again. The Huskies have won on this field and they certainly have the potential to keep winning all the way to Super Regionals.