Baseball: Huskies hoping for better weather against Eagles
After rain disrupted a weekend series with Rutgers, the UConn baseball team will be in Boston Tuesday to play Boston College. The Huskies are looking to go above .500. TROY CALDEIRA/The Daily Campus
After battling through a rain-soaked conference series with Rutgers last weekend, the UConn baseball team will take a short road trip today to Chestnut Hill, Mass. to square off against regional rival Boston College, a team that has gone 10 days since its last win.
Head coach Jim Penders said despite the Eagles' (7-18, 1-11 ACC) less-than-stellar record, they are a team that has emerged from their early-season conference schedule hardened, battle tested and eager to break their current six-game losing streak, having been most recently swept by No. 2 Florida State in a three-game set last weekend.
"They're playing at home, their first game on their field, hopefully, for them," Penders said. "They're going to be ready for us. I didn't even realize they'd lost six straight and I wish they hadn't, to be honest with you. I wish they beat Florida State [last] weekend. But they're going to be primed and ready."
"They're going to be excited about playing the Huskies and not the Tar Heels or the Seminoles, that's for sure."
UConn (12-12, 2-3 American) is coming off last weekend's abridged, turbulent two-game series with Rutgers, in which the Huskies and Scarlet Knights endured two halted games and a rain delay to earn one win apiece.
Penders' squad racked up 11 runs and 11 hits in its lone series win last Saturday, the type of offensive showing that - along with taking advantage of opponents' mistakes - he said he'd like to see with more frequency moving forward.
"I think you saw what we're capable of with those 11 runs, we just have to see that more consistently," Penders said, "we have to see that on a more consistent basis of cashing in on the opportunities that we're given by the pitching staff and the opponent's defense. Rutgers gave us a few opportunities in the first game that we did not cash in on at all and then the second game we did.
Hopefully the guys are a little bit more confident heading into this week with our bats than we were the previous week."
Penders said freshman right hander Andrew Zapata will man the bump for the Huskies this afternoon, his fourth start and ninth appearance of the season. Zapata comes into today's game with season totals of 26.2 innings pitched, 16 strikeouts, 15 hits, 15 walks and a 1.69 earned run average, good for fifth-best in the conference.
"I think he's gotten better each time out," Penders said of Zapata. "He pitched well at Hartford and deserved to win the ball game, we just couldn't hit. He's had three solid outings in a row where I think he's learned a little something about himself each time, and I'm looking forward to seeing that progression again. He's good out of the pen for us, but I think he's better suited to being a starting pitcher, and his stuff should play against just about anybody that we compete against, so I'm looking forward to seeing him [today]."
Today's game is a rematch of the Huskies' April 2, 2013 home loss to the Eagles, a contest in which Boston College's then-freshman designated hitter Chris Shaw - a New York Mets draft pick - belted two home runs and four RBI's, propelling his team to a 7-4 victory.
"The kid Shaw beat us almost single handedly last year, he hit a couple of balls out," Penders said. "So he kind of got them going a little bit, they had been struggling up until that point. He's a guy that can take you deep and you had the wind blowing that day. You don't want him to beat you and that was where we failed a year ago with BC."
Penders reiterated that he puts little stock into the Eagles' record and that, if last year's game is any indication, the Huskies will have their hands full once again.
"Their record does not tell the story," Penders said. "They're playing in an ultra-competitive Atlantic Coast Conference. Their record on paper's not that good. They had a lead on the No. 1 team in the nation this weekend and lost. They're a very talented group, and we're going to have to play our best to beat them."
First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. Coverage of the game can be heard on 91.7-WHUS.
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