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UConn baseball dispatches Hartford 8-3 in home opener

The Huskies’ winning streak extends to eight in a row

UConn’s Hector Alejandro threw two scoreless innings to get the win against Hartford.
Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

It may not have been the most attractive game of the young season, and the frigid early spring temperatures certainly didn’t help, but merely “pretty good” was good enough for UConn baseball on Tuesday afternoon, earning an 8-3 win against Hartford in its first home game of the season.

The Huskies extended their winning streak to eight, and move to 9-1 on the year after a game that was sloppy at times, but ultimately ended in a UConn win.

“Today was far from a Rembrandt,” head coach Jim Penders said. “We’ve gotta play a lot better than we did today but we were lucky to come out with a win.”

UConn’s first two innings gave them a bit of room to work with on that front. The Huskies scored three in the first inning off singles from David Smith, Zach Bushling, Ben Huber and T.C. Simmons, then three more in the second inning, tattooing the second Hartford pitcher of the game. Smith started it off again with a single up the middle, and sparked a two-out rally with a two-RBI single from Erik Stock and fielding errors from the Hawks, tacking on three more.

Stock extended his hit streak to 21 games, dating back to 2021, and Smith was an efficient leadoff hitter, going 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored.

“I was just trying to get on base honestly. I’ve had one or two hits each game but today I wanted to get on and let the guys behind me score some runs,” Smith said.

The Huskies’ featured a Rays-style opener and a pitching staff by committee, an occurrence that Penders mentioned would be commonplace for the Huskies this year in midweek games. Six different Huskies took the mound; some impressed, and some less so.

Redshirt freshman Hector Alejandro was the nominal starter and got the two scoreless opening innings to start out the contest strong. A pair of freshmen, Brady Afthim and Braden Quinn, had perhaps the most impressive performances of the day. Afthim was able to successfully bridge the gap in the eighth to Quinn in the ninth, who struck out the side in the final frame to close it out for the Huskies.

The Huskies ran into trouble in the middle innings with Sam Favieri on the mound, who let up two runs in the sixth to make things close, but was not helped by UConn’s defense in the inning. UConn scraped away two more runs in the third and fifth innings, and it was enough for them to win fairly comfortably.

UConn will now forgo the late-winter freeze in Connecticut for a sunny California spring break trip, taking on Pepperdine, UC San Diego, Long Beach State and USC in eight games over a 12-day span, their biggest test yet.