UConn baseball fought hard to the end, but ultimately dropped two out of three against the University of New Orleans. This brings the Huskies to 4-5 on the year through three weeks.
The first game started out as a pitchers’ duel, as UConn’s new Friday starter Joe Simeone showed huge improvements from his first two weeks of action. Simeone was locating well and pitching to contact with his split-finger fastball, allowing three hits and just one earned run through 4.1 innings.
UConn recovered that run on a Reggie Crawford RBI grounder, but the trouble started when the Huskies’ relief staff entered the game. Sophomore Will Lucas entered in the fifth inning, and immediately gave up a five-pitch walk and a double. Fellow underclassman Pat Gallagher was thrown into the fray next, and gave up a pair of singles to drive those two runs home, making it 4-1.
Chris Winkel drove in two runs in the next inning with an RBI single after Anthony Nucerino walked and freshman third baseman Todd Petersen roped a double down the left field line for the first hit of his college career. Winkel had his best game of the young season, going 3-for-4 with a double and a stolen base.
This gave it an appearance of a close game, but New Orleans had other plans. The Privateers jumped all over senior Kenny Haus, who pitching coach Josh McDonald has been using as a setup man so far this season. Haus gave up two walks, a HBP and a pair of hits in a four-run eighth as the game finished with UNO on top, 8-3.
Trying to salvage a positive result for the weekend, UConn came out flat-footed again against a New Orleans squad eager to prove themselves against one of the top college baseball programs in the northeast.
The Privateers chased starter Colby Dunlop from his second tough outing in a row after 2.1 innings where he allowed hits to 7 out of the 14 batters he faced. New Orleans would score twice in the first inning, three runs in the second and seven runs in the third to put the game out of reach.
UConn’s offense finally came alive halfway through the game, mustering runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh to bring the Huskies within six, but New Orleans had poured on too much too early on, and they scored the series win a day early, 17-8.
Either freed from the pressure of winning the series, or finally figuring out one of the Privateers’ solid starting pitchers, UConn got a win on Sunday, beating New Orleans 9-2.
If junior college transfer Nick Krauth ever planned on easing expectations after his lights-out start to the 2020 season, it certainly did not happen on Sunday. Krauth was as brilliant as ever, allowing just two earned runs in his longest outing yet, finishing out seven full innings. He was getting even more batters than usual to miss, fanning eight Privateers on the day.
UConn’s offense supported him early, with a pair of runs smartly manufactured in the second inning. A pair of singles from Kyler Fedko and Chris Winkel sent Kyler to third, then catcher Cole Brodnansky did his job and sent him home with a sacrifice fly.
New Orleans would even it up with two runs in the bottom of the second, but it was all Huskies after that. Kyler Fedko scored Erik Stock on a rocket shot to the pitcher, putting UConn up for good. Reggie Crawford would tack on to the UConn lead in the next nning with a two-RBI single, and UConn would add on three more in the last three innings to slam the door shut.
- Freshman first baseman Reggie Crawford continued his smoking-hot start, going 5-for-14 on the weekend, raising his averages to .400/.786/.436 on the year.
- Kyler Fedko has also continued his fast start, now with the highest average among starters after batting a combined 7-for-13 on the trip.
- UConn seems to have found its ideal designated hitter, at least when Paul Gozzo has to utilize his skills behind the plate. Erik Stock, a two-way transfer from Old Dominion, came into his own this weekend, going 6-for-11 with a double and three RBI.
- The Huskies have also received some clarity on the starting rotation. It’s probably too soon to recommend making any changes to the order, but it’s tough to argue against moving Krauth up in the rotation going forward, especially when Simeone and Dunlop have performed so inconsistently.
- With a weekend series against 2-9 Presbyterian College coming up, it could be the perfect time to experiment with a different rotation going forward.