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Preview: UConn baseball vs. Texas Tech | 12 p.m., ESPNU

The Huskies open up the NCAA Tournament against the Red Raiders of Texas Tech.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

When: Friday, June 2; 12 p.m.

Where: Condron Family Ballpark; Gainesville, FL

How to listen: Mixlr

How to watch: ESPNU

Weather Report

A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 85. Northeast wind 9 to 11 mph.

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Projected Starters

RHP Stephen Quigley (4-2, 4.75 ERA) vs. LHP Mason Molina (5-2, 3.72 ERA)

What to watch for

UConn will return to Gainesville and play NCAA Tournament baseball, after earning a 3-seed in the 2016 Gainesville Regional, along with No. 1 Florida, Georgia Tech and Bethune-Cookman. The Huskies edged out Georgia Tech, then pushed Florida to the brink and were eliminated on Sunday by the Yellow Jackets.

That was the only time the boys from Storrs have faced off against Florida, but they went to Texas Tech for four games in 2021 and lost all four. UConn has never played the Rattlers.

The Huskies’ first matchup comes against one of the best lineups in the country in Texas Tech. Tim Tadlock’s team has a top 25 ranking nationally in each of the three slash line categories, hitting .309/.417/.519 as a ballclub. That’s a great line for an individual player, let alone the team. It’s also sixth in the country in walks.

This likely plays into the decision to start Stephen Quigley. Of the four options at Jim Penders’ disposal (Garrett Coe, Ian Cooke, Andrew Sears and Quigley), his 3.4 walks per nine innings is the second-best, just behind Sears (3.3 BB/9) and more than a walk better than both Coe and Cooke. Texas Tech gets runners on base via the walk, led by Nolan Hester (.374/.536/.485), who owns an incredible 20.5 percent walk rate, and then drives them in with a bevy of power hitters, as five players with more than 100 at-bats have a slugging percentage over .500.

Quigley has been wild as of late, with at least four free passes in three of his last four outings, including five over just three frames in the Big East Tournament against Xavier, but has the best control pedigree of the starters to which the Huskies might have turned.

Texas Tech is going to turn to Mason Molina (5-2, 3.73), its unquestioned best starter. The left-hander is one of just two Red Raider pitchers that have made at least 10 starts this season, along with Zane Petty (3-1, 6.27). Molina has 98 strikeouts and a batting average against of .219 and limits the walks, with just 33 in 77 13 innings. He’s likely to be followed by key relievers Brandon Beckel (5-2, 2.01) and Ryan Free (5-4, 4.35).

UConn will face off against whichever school matches its result between No. 2 Florida and Florida A&M. If it’s a win, the Huskies will play at 6 p.m. on Saturday for the right to move to the Gainesville Regional final. If it’s a loss, they’ll play at 12 p.m. in an elimination game.