Coming off dropping two of three to USF for their first series loss since their season opener against Florida Atlantic, the UConn baseball team takes a break from American Athletic Conference play to square off against Northeastern in their first midweek game at J.O. Christian Field this year.
After falling to the Bulls 9-6 in the first game of the series, the Huskies defeated USF 7-0 Friday in Northborough, Mass. before dropping the rubber match in the series 8-6. The Huskies held 4-0 through four innings in the final game of the series before USF outscored the Huskies 8-2 from the fifth inning forward.
The two losses at J.O. Christian and the win in Northborough mean that the Huskies (19-11, 3-3 the American) have yet to win a game at J.O. Christian Field this season. All 19 of UConn’s wins have come either on the road or at a neutral site, which has led to the Huskies ranking 35th in the country in Rating Percentage Index (RPI). RPI weighs heavily on road/neutral site wins, and the Huskies’ success away from home could greatly bolster their chances of making the College World Series as an at-large team.
UConn will look to capture their first home win of the season against Northeastern (11-18, 4-5 Colonial Athletic Association), who has dropped four of their last five games. Michael Foster and Pat Madigan are crucial cogs in the Northeastern offense, hitting .376 and .351 respectively. Rob Fonseca serves as the primary source of power in the Northeastern, as the first baseman leads the team with five home runs and is slugging .494, the third highest mark on the team behind Foster (.532) and Madigan (.526).
With regards to pitching, Northeastern boasts a team ERA of 6.48 and have surrendered 24 home runs on the year. Despite the struggles on the mound, reliever Mike Fitzgerald has shined, posting 1.02 ERA in 17.2 innings pitched and two saves. Fitzgerald has struck out 21 while only walking three, and could be a a tough matchup for UConn if the game stays close late.
Despite dropping two of three against the Bulls, UConn still had their moments offensively. Blake Davey was named to the American Honor Roll after hitting .500 with six RBIs last week. Although his 18-game hitting streak was snapped in Thursday’s loss, second baseman Vinny Siena has stayed hot with the bat as well, leading the team with a .366 average and is third in the conference with 48 hits.
Andrew Zapata will once again take the ball for the Huskies, making his fifth midweek start. The sophomore right hander owns a 6.86 ERA, but has struck out 19 in 19.2 innings and will look to prevent back-to-back losses for the first time since February.
The game can be heard on WHUS 91.7 FM. First pitch is at 3 p.m.