Baseball Looks to Bounce Back vs. Holy Cross

After dropping another American Athletic Conference series at home last weekend to Memphis, the UConn baseball team is back in action Wednesday against Holy Cross. The midweek game will close out a nine-game home stand at J.O. Christian Field in which the Huskies are currently 4-4.

UConn endured another heartbreaking rubber game loss Sunday as they dropped a 3-1 decision to Memphis in 15 innings. The game continued an upsetting trend for the Huskies, as they previously let series-deciding contests slip to both USF and ECU at home earlier this month.

“We need to finish ballgames,” head coach Jim Penders said. “We haven’t done a good job of finishing baseball games at home and finishing tight ballgames. When we win, we win big, and we haven’t won enough tight games.”

This trend is evident in UConn’s overwhelming run differential, as they have outscored opponents 302-156 in 2015. However, the team has had difficulties closing out games, especially in American Athletic Conference play where they are only 7-8 this season. The team is 21-9 against all other conferences.

As the Huskies close out their season in search of an NCAA tournament berth, they will have three more conference series to prove their worth, including a potentially crucial three-game set in Houston to close the season May 14-16. They also have two midweek games against local foes remaining, with the first coming against Holy Cross.

“We just have to stay out of our own way, and hopefully play a clean game,” Penders said. “We need to see the offense get back on track from Sunday.”

The UConn bats went uncharacteristically silent in the loss Sunday, mustering only one run on 10 hits over 15 innings as usual suspects such as Jack Sundberg, Max McDowell and Vinny Siena went hitless. The Huskies will have the opportunity to recover Wednesday against Holy Cross. The Crusaders will enter the game with a team ERA of 4.19 after being swept by Bucknell last weekend. UConn has produced runs easily in midweek games, including 30 runs combined against UMass and UMass Lowell last Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

Andrew Zapata will make his eighth start of the season for the Huskies Wednesday. Zapata is 4-0 with a 3.98 ERA, and opposing batters are hitting.229 against him on the season. He has come away with victories in his last three starts.

“(Zapata) has been very good, and seems to get better each time out,” Penders said. “Hopefully that continues tomorrow.”

Zapata will face a Holy Cross lineup that is hitting .266 on the season. Cam O’Neill leads the Crusaders with a .323 average while Anthony Critelli and Evan Ocello bring the power in the middle of the order. Critelli and Ocello have combined for six home runs and 27 doubles this year.

First pitch between UConn and Holy Cross at J.O. Christian Field Wednesday is scheduled for 3 p.m.

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