Friday, 3:05 p.m.
Saturday, 1:05 p.m.
Sunday, 11:05 a.m.
Where: Elliot Ballpark, Storrs, CT
Warren Nolan RPI
No. 45 UConn vs. No. 97 Creighton
RHP Austin Peterson (8-0, 2.95 ERA)
RHP Pat Gallagher (7-3, 2.91 ERA)
RHP Enzo Stefanoni (6-1, 2.24 ERA)
The road to the Big East regular-season title and No. 1 seed in the conference tournament runs through Storrs this weekend, as UConn (37-8, 11-1 Big East) hosts Creighton (25-12, 10-2 Big East) for a three-game series starting on Friday.
One game separates the two teams at the top of the conference, with the next-closest Xavier sitting four back at 6-6. If that wasn’t enough to motivate the Huskies, their chances for an at-large bid might hang on performing well—or even perfect—this weekend against one of two remaining opponents sitting top 100 in RPI.
If you ask head coach Jim Penders, however, RPI might as well not exist around the clubhouse. All the Huskies need to do is win.
“We just gotta keep winning, and the guys know that,” head coach Jim Penders said. “We know there shouldn’t be an off switch, we need to keep the pedal down.”
Creighton is fresh off a hard-fought series win against Xavier. The Blue Jays have one of the better pitching staffs in the league and a solid defense behind them, ranking top 20 in ERA despite not striking out lots of opposing hitters.
Dylan Tebrake is their Friday starter and a quality one at that. The junior has lived up to his billing as an All-Big East preseason selection with a 2.76 ERA, and 6-1 record over 13 starts. He has a four-pitch mix with a fastball sitting in the mid 90’s and a wipeout slider, mixing in a curveball and a changeup that have earned him 71 strikeouts on the year.
Dominic Cancelie transferred in from Notre Dame in 2021 and has carved out a role for himself as their go-to Saturday starter with a 5-1 record and a 4.18 ERA.
Their lineup is carried by the top of the order, with Alan Roden, Jared Wegner, and Andrew Weggs hitting over .300 on the year. Wegner leads the team with 10 home runs, Roden with 56 hits (riding a 17-game hitting streak).
After a wobble early in the series, UConn returned to its midseason form and at the right time. After sloppy play almost cost the Huskies in a slim 8-7 victory in extra innings last weekend, the Huskies outgained Butler 20-11 in a dominant final two games.
UConn’s star outfielder Erik Stock continues to pace the Big East, ranking fourth in the country with 75 hits and ninth in the nation with a .412 batting average. Ben Huber has been a force behind him in the lineup, hitting .439 with six doubles, two homers, and 18 RBI over the past 10 games.
The Huskies’ rotation is also rounding into form at the right time. Austin Peterson, Pat Gallagher, and Enzo Stefanoni all have ERAs south of 3.00. Peterson continues to reach for records as the ace of the staff, just six strikeouts from 100 on the year. UConn might have found a legitimate fourth starter in freshman Ian Cooke as well, something that’s all-important in the postseason.