Showdown with In-State Rival UConn Awaits Bulldogs

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Cale Hanson. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

 

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — On Wednesday afternoon, the Yale University baseball team will make the one-hour drive to Storrs to take on in-state rival UConn in a scheduled nine-inning contest at J.O. Christian Field at 3 p.m.

The Bulldogs are hoping to spoil the Huskies' home opener. In doing so, Yale (4-10-1) will end a short two-game losing streak. The Bulldogs have struggled of late, losing six of their last nine games, a stretch that includes two tough 2-1 losses in Florida (North Dakota State, March 10; at South Florida, March 12) and a 7-7 tie against Bradley.

The Bulldogs would love to repeat last season's performance against the Huskies (6-11). The Bulldogs scored five runs in the seventh inning and five more in the eighth to come back from a 7-0 deficit to pull out a 10-7 win in a rain-shortened eight-inning affair at historic Yale Field on April 12, 2011.

A performance like that would certainly provide a great springboard into the upcoming stretch of six straight games against in-state rivals that includes a four-game home-and-home series against Hartford and leads into the start of the Ivy League season next weekend with a pair of road doubleheaders at Columbia (March 31) and Penn (April 1).

Junior left-hander Chris O'Hare is scheduled to pitch for the Bulldogs. O'Hare is currently 1-1 with a 6.35 ERA, which includes his first win of the season against Bowling Green in which he gave up just five hits in six scoreless innings. In his three starts, O'Hare has allowed 12 runs, eight earned, on 17 hits, including three doubles and one triple, with 10 strikeouts and nine walks. Opposing teams are hitting .327 off of him so far this season.

UConn will counter with junior right-hander Pat Butler, who is 0-2 in four starts with an 8.04 ERA. Butler has given up 17 runs, 14 earned, on 20 hits with 11 strikeouts, four walks and five hit batters. His 20 hits allowed include five doubles and three triples. Opposing teams are hitting .313 off of him this season.

The Huskies are riding a four-game losing streak after closing a 17-game road swing that saw them play in five tournaments, including the Big East/Big Ten Challenge in Florida, the Cougar Invitational in South Carolina, the Mississippi State Tournament in Mississippi, the Nike Showcase in Oregon, and a return to South Carolina for the Coastal Tournament.

UConn, the defending Big East champion, is led by senior first baseman Ryan Fuller and junior second baseman L.J. Mazzilli. Fuller is hitting a team-best .351 while starting all 17 games with five doubles and two triples and 11 RBIs. Mazzilli is second on the team in hitting with a .333 average with a team-high five home runs, 12 RBIs, 15 runs scored, four doubles and a triple.

Yale enters Wednesday's contest with one player hitting better than .300. Sophomore shortstop Cale Hanson is leading the team in hitting (.380), slugging (.460), on-base percentage (.436), total hits (19), and stolen bases (3). Freshman David Toups is second on the team in hitting (.293), total hits (17) and RBIs (7). Sophomore Kevin Fortunato is slugging .414 while leading the Bulldogs in RBIs (10), doubles (6), home runs (1) and total bases (24). As Yale's primary closer, he also has two saves in six appearances.

John Stuper is in the midst of his 20th season as the head coach of baseball at Yale. The all-time winningest head coach in the 145-year history of Yale baseball, Stuper enters the weekend with 383 career victories in the Bulldogs' dugout, just 17 wins away from his 400th career coaching victory.

Following Wednesday's game at UConn, Yale will visit Hartford for a doubleheader on Saturday that begins at 12 p.m. before returning to historic Yale Field on Sunday to close the four-game set against Hartford beginning at 12 p.m.

Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity