UConn baseball kicked of its season with a good weekend in Tampa, winning two of three against USF, Louisville and Charlotte. Just like that, the college baseball season seems back like it never left.
The Huskies are getting right back to work this weekend with a road trip to Jacksonville, taking on the Ospreys of North Florida, who struggled on their first weekend of the year, winning just one of four against Presbyterian. The Huskies continue to need a strong showing in non-conference play in order to make the NCAA Tournament should they fall in the Big East postseason, so a series win here is crucial.
When: Friday, February 26, 6:05 p.m.
Saturday, February 27, 2:05 p.m.
Sunday, February 28, 1:05 p.m.
Where: Dusty Rhodes Field at Harmon Stadium, Jacksonville, Florida
RHP Austin Peterson vs. LHP Tony ROca
RHP Pat Gallagher vs. RHP Dominick Madonna
RHP Enzo Stefanoni vs. RHP Max McKinley
What to watch for
- UConn has certainly been able to practice more effectively in the preseason during 2021 and 2022 with the opening of the new turf Elliott Ballpark and the indoor practice facility, but early-season bugs on defense are universal no matter how long you get to prepare. The Huskies had six errors in their opening three games, all on the infield. With half the position group made out of newcomers, look for the group to continue to gel over the coming weeks.
- A pair of outfielders led the Huskies in overall offense in the opening weekend, as Erik Stock and Kevin Ferrer combined to go 11-for-18 at the plate with three doubles and three RBI. Both players returned to the field after nagging injuries in the offseason as well; Stock competing just weeks after undergoing hand surgery.
- Two newcomers to the Huskies’ pitching staff arrived in style last weekend. Harvard transfer Enzo Stefanoni had a stellar debut on the bump, throwing 6.2 scoreless innings on Sunday against Louisville and earning the win. Freshman Ian Cooke’s performance on Friday was equally impressive, going 2.2 innings in relief of Austin Peterson without earning a run. Enzo will once again feature as a Sunday starter, and Cooke will have another chance to solidify himself as the Huskies go-to middle relief arm.
- North Florida had a middling 2020 and lost a lot of production in the lineup from that team. The departure of Alex Kachler, the ASUN Player of the Year who batted .356 in 2021, and outfielder Blake Marshall, who was a wizard in the field in addition to a solid hitter, could sting, but the Ospreys have returnees to fill that gap. Shortstop Aidan Sweatt after an appearance in the 2021 ASUN All-Freshman team, along with long bombers, first baseman Trey Spratling-Williams and second baseman Hector Sequera.
- North Florida also boasts an impressive bullpen, led by closer Stephen Halstead, who fetaures an impressive slider and setup man Sarin Kilfoil, who boasted a 2.08 ERA in 2021.