March 28, 2010
Louisville, Kentucky -- Herbert France founded the University of Connecticut music department in the 1930's. Those of us in the athletic department at UConn, and those who cheer for our teams, know him better as the man who composed our fight song, UConn Husky. In his original version, the word, "fight" was featured just twice. Over the years, the folks who sing it have added at least three more "fights", and most versions now use the word six times. The only word that appears more in the nine stanza song is "Connecticut".
UConn Husky, symbol of might to the foe Fight, fight Connecticut / It's victory, let's go (let's go!)
Connecticut UConn Husky, Do it again for the white and blue So go (fight!) - go (fight!) - go (fight!) - go! Connecticut, Connecticut U
(Spell it!) C - O - N - N - E - C - T - I - C - U - T,
Connecticut Connecticut Husky, Connecticut Husky
C - O - N - N - U (Fight!)
In case that got your blue and white blood flowing, click here for a listen.
Just like our favorite tune, we needed a little more fight in game three yesterday here in Louisville, and thankfully, starting pitcher Matt Barnes and company obliged to salvage a win in a very close, well-played, and hard-fought three-game series shortened to two days in order to beat today's rain.
All of our starters were excellent this weekend. Elliot Glynn kept the potent Cardinal offense at bay all night Friday with a great mix, but we couldn't get any offense going and got beat 1-0. In the first game of the doubleheader yesterday, Greg Nappo pitched a fantastic game, and reliever Scott Oberg made just one mistake. The mistake was hit by Andrew Clark for a bases-clearing double that had us trailing for the first and only time all day Saturday. A 4-2 loss put our backs against the wall. We had to avoid a conference-opening-series sweep, and thank goodness our most dominant start was saved for last.
Matt pitched the best game of his young UConn career. In a rematch of starters from last year's Big East championship game, he outdueled the Cards' Tony Zych and gave up just five hits, recorded nine punch-outs against two walks, and induced ten groundball outs in a stellar eight innings. It was a special performance. What was even more special is that he wanted to finish the game. Perhaps he was inspired by the fighter sitting in the front row for his start. Muhammad Ali sat behind the backstop for much of our nightcap win yesterday. His son Asaad is a Cardinal catcher, and I must admit, it was pretty cool to see perhaps the most famous man in the world watching us yesterday.
While the guys were like giddy schoolgirls a few weeks ago when we shared our redeye from LAX to Atlanta with Snoop Dogg, I was more than a little in awe of the champ in my sightline from the third base box just over the shoulder of our hitters as I flashed signs. Nick Ahmed made some big plays, and the bottom of our order got us going with three doubles in the second from Kevin Vance, Tim Martin, and John Andreoli. Joe Pavone and Mike Nemeth added a couple of big home runs, and about 25 hours after the series began, it was over with the Huskies winning 6-3 after Kevin Vance held off an offensive onslaught of jabs, right hooks, and uppercuts from the Louisville bats in the ninth.
We didn't accomplish our goal of winning the series, couldn't quite make a couple of key plays, and at times looked like we had hologram bats in our hands with thirty-six strikeouts in the three games (that's not a typo). After a team-wide study hall for those not attending church this Palm Sunday morning, we'll kill time before our evening flight by taking a tour of the Louisville Slugger Museum here in downtown Louisville. Hopefully, our hitters will be inspired by the lathed-lumber. If not for the need to be in class Monday through Wednesday, along with a quick trip for a game against Hartford, we could take a slow boat up the Ohio and link up with the Monongahela for a cruise into Morgantown for our Easter week Thursday - Saturday series with the Mountaineers. Instead, we'll get a lift and practice in tomorrow back in Storrs, and hopefully rediscover some offense against a very hard-hitting Hawks team on Tuesday prior to hopping on another flight Wednesday afternoon.
Despite the outcome of the series, there were several positives with which we'll climb aboard the Southwest flight tonight. Our starting pitching was up to the challenge. For the most part, we played sound defense and really limited free 90's in all three games. We had the #7 ranked team in the country on the ropes for 27 innings in 25 hours this weekend. Most importantly, and the thing I'm most proud of, is that when we got knocked down, we knew how to fight back.