Sunday, April 25, noon (DH)
Sunday, April 25, 3 p.m. (DH)
Monday, April 26, 3 p.m.
Tuesday, April 27, 11 a.m.
Where: Cincinnati, Ohio
Radio: FM 91.7 WHUS
Sunday: RHP Ben Casparius (4-2, 2.98 ERA) vs. LHP Nick Zwack (3-3, 3.60 ERA)
Sunday (Game two): RHP Austin Peterson (4-1, 2.13 ERA) vs. RHP Lane Flamm (2-2, 4.18 ERA)
Monday: RHP Pat Gallagher (2-1, 5.57 ERA) vs. RHP Ethan Bosacker (1-2, 5.68 ERA)
Tuesday: RHP Joe Simeone (1-3, 5.40 ERA) vs. LHP Trevor Olson (3-1, 2.92 ERA)
It feels like we’ve gone an entire new offseason without UConn baseball (16-12, 2-0 Big East) since the program was put on hold due to COVID-19, but the Huskies are back this weekend for a series against Xavier in Cincinnati.
The series will begin on Sunday, April 25 with a doubleheader, pushed back from a Friday start due to forecasted inclement weather in southern Ohio. After a two-week pause, what’s a few more days?
Xavier themselves have had a decent start to their year. They sit No. 115 in RPI, 14-15 on the year and 5-2 in Big East conference play. They played an ambitious non-conference slate, winning their opening series against Texas A&M, splitting a four-game series against Cincinnati and losing series against Baylor and Evansville. In Big East play, the Musketeers have looked impressive with series wins over Butler and St. John’s.
Xavier’s offense has really been carrying the team recently, scoring 9.4 runs per game in the past seven and 12.4 in their past five wins.
Their star player is Andrew Walker, a junior outfielder from Pittsburgh who has gotten off to a massive start to the year, with a .382 average, .574 slugging and a .442 on-base percentage. Second baseman Jack Housinger was named to the preseason Big East team, and he’s living up to the billing so far with a .297 average, leading the team with 10 doubles. Freshman Luke Franzioni leads the team with five home runs hitting in the cleanup spot.
The Musketeers’ pitching staff, on the other hand, has not been quite as impressive as their offense. They have a 6.06 team ERA which hasn’t been helped by their defense, which leads the Big East with 37 errors.
Xavier’s starting pitching has been solid, and they’ve had to be, with not much depth in the bullpen. Left-handed seniors Nick Zwack (2.92 ERA) and Trevor Olson (3.60 ERA) lead the way for the Musketeers’ starters. Junior Lane Flamm was named to the preseason All-Big East team and has been as good as advertised so far leading the team in strikeouts and posting 4.18 ERA.
What to watch for
It’s been nearly two weeks since the Huskies last played a competitive baseball game. They’ve been able to practice in person beforehand, but with everything that’s been going on off the field, it’s hard to know what to expect in their first game back. Some players will come out firing down the home stretch, while some might fail to match their first half marks.
With the loss of potentially high-RPI games against Creighton (the Jays are No. 43 in the nation), the Huskies have an even more uphill battle to secure an NCAA tournament bid without winning the Big East tournament. The Huskies have four-game conference series against Butler (261), St. John’s (203), Villanova (60) and Seton Hall (128) remaining, along with a two-game set against Northeastern (56) and a midweek game against Rhode Island (50). Even provided they win out, which is extremely unlikely, their non-conference resume will likely preclude an at-large bid.