UConn baseball ran up against an offensive juggernaut this weekend as No. 7 Texas Tech dropped 38 runs in a four-game sweep of the Huskies in Lubbock, Texas.
UConn moves to 4-10 on the year with one non-conference series left before Big East play begins.
UConn lost 4-3 in the first game of the series, riding a solid performance from starter Ben Casparius only to come up short in an agonizingly close contest. Ben Casparius had the best night of any UConn pitcher against this potent Texas Tech offense as the junior went 5.0 innings, allowing three hits, three earned runs, and racking up eight strikeouts.
UConn struck first in this one, with an RBI single from Christian Fedko giving them a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. This would be the last time UConn would lead a game against the Red Raiders until Monday.
Ben battled on the hill today punching out eight Red Raiders! pic.twitter.com/zia4NLewuC— UConn Baseball (@UConnBSB) March 12, 2021
Shortstop Cal Conley was a thorn in Casparius’ side, with a two-run double in the bottom of the first and an RBI single in the bottom of the third that put the Red Raiders up 3-1. Kenny Haus entered for Casparius in the sixth and gave up one unearned run.
Texas Tech pitcher Brandon Birdsell had a 6.52 ERA coming into Friday’s game, but you wouldn’t know it based on his performance. He kept UConn’s offense largely quiet, going 6.0 innings while allowing just one earned run on four hits and three walks.
UConn struck back against the Texas Tech bullpen in the later innings with a Patrick Winkel fly-out and an Andy Hague RBI groundout bringing the score to 4-3.
With a runner on second and the Huskies trailing 4-3 in the top of the ninth, freshman T.C. Simmons gave UConn a shot with the first hit of his career. But the run never reached the plate as David Langer was thrown out by Texas Tech’s star centerfielder Dylan Neuse. This would become the theme of the weekend for the Huskies: having victory in sight only to fall short.
UConn fell 10-3 in the second game of the series. This one was close until the late innings as the Huskies trailed Texas Tech 4-3 going into the eighth before the Red Raiders scored six runs on four hits, an error, and a balk.
Texas Tech jumped on UConn starter Joe Simeone early, sending eight batters to the plate in the first inning and plating three on an RBI single from Neuse and a home run off the bat of first baseman Nick Rombach. After an RBI single from Jace Jung in the second, Texas Tech was up 4-0.
UConn struck back in the third and fourth innings when centerfielder Kyler Fedko got the rally started with a stinger up the middle, then scored on a single from shortstop Zach Bushling. After being all but dropped from the lineup during last weekend’s Battle at the Beach, Fedko responded well against Texas Tech and raised his average to over .300 with 12 hits and 12 total runs.
That’s the Kyler we know!— UConn Baseball (@UConnBSB) March 13, 2021
He is 2-2 and brings the Huskies a run closer with this base hit to right! pic.twitter.com/2jdYKKzuaJ
After four rough innings from Simeone, freshman Pat Gallagher settled the game down with 3.0 innings of scoreless ball, allowing just one hit and two walks.
After the fourth, UConn brought the tying run to third base in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings, but failed to capitalize. Texas Tech then made them pay dearly in the eighth, with an offensive explosion that sent the Huskies packing.
Texas Tech clinched the series win in the third game with a high-scoring 15-13 victory. UConn had a season-high 13 runs and 18 hits, but poor pitching and defense put the Red Raiders over the top in the end.
Offenses were expected to be on top, with 30 mph wind gusts lashing out to left field in Rip Griffin Park, and the two programs did not disappoint.
Multiple young Huskies had great games at the plate and Kyler Fedko continued to look more and more like a Big East preseason player of the year, going 2-for-6 with two doubles and four RBI. Patrick Winkel also had a productive day at the plate, going 2-for-3 with three walks and three runs. Freshman T.C. Simmons had the first multi-hit game of his career, going 3-for-3 with two RBI, but left the game with a head injury after colliding with Kevin Ferrer in the outfield.
Texas Tech got off to a flying start, and UConn simply couldn’t recover. The Red Raiders chased off Austin Peterson — who had his worst start yet in a UConn uniform — Jimmy Wang, and freshman Sam Favieri, scoring eight runs in the first four innings.
UConn rallied in the latter half of the game, scoring runs in the fifth through ninth innings to get within two. The Huskies had the tying run at the plate in the eighth and ninth innings, but once again, it wasn't enough.
Stop me if you've heard this one before: UConn plays a hard-fought game against Texas Tech, bringing the tying run to the plate multiple times, but fails to get the job done. The Huskies lost a heartbreaker, 9-8, in the final game of the series.
UConn led 8-6 heading into the bottom of the 10th inning before Caleb Wurster gave up three long home runs in consecutive at-bats to give Texas Tech the series sweep.
The Huskies took the lead for just the second time in the series at the beginning of the game. Texas Tech pitching was iffy all day, spotting UConn a few runs. Kyler Fedko led off the second inning with a double and stole second on his way to a 5-for-5 day at the dish. Two straight HBPs loaded the bases for the Huskies before a walk and sacrifice fly made it 2-0.
Texas Tech struck right back in the next inning with a solo home run and continued to trade blows with UConn for the rest of the game.
Kenny Haus pitched well for the Huskies, allowing one earned run on two hits through 3.2 innings, as did Randy Polonia who went 2.1 innings and gave up just one earned run on two hits.
UConn was down 6-4 heading into the top of the ninth. Kevin Ferrer came up clutch with a two-run single to send the game to extra innings.
A Kyler Fedko double and Erik Stock single put UConn up 8-6, but the three-straight home runs sent the Huskies home with their sixth one-run loss of the year.
Kyler’s fifth hit of the game is a go-ahead RBI double! pic.twitter.com/M1yF4be7eB— UConn Baseball (@UConnBSB) March 15, 2021
UConn will head to Philadelphia next weekend looking to rebound against St. Joseph’s University.