Baseball continues struggles, gets swept

Nate McGann

After a difficult road trip against Connecticut, the baseball team returned home to a not-so-warm welcome. The ‘Cats were swept by the Pitt Panthers in a weekend series that saw good offense, but less than stellar pitching.

This was the third straight Big East series in which Villanova failed to win a game. The ‘Cats now find themselves sitting at 2-10 and in a tie for last place with Georgetown. 

In the opener on Friday, Villanova spoiled a four-hit performance from senior center fielder Justin Bencsko and fell 8-5. The ‘Cats were unable to spread out the offense. Only three of the team’s 11 hits came after the fourth inning. Meanwhile, Villanova starter Brian Streilein went seven innings but gave up six runs, five of which were earned, and added four walks. Villanova was only down by a run until the eighth inning when reliever Jerry Battipaglia gave up two, padding the Panthers’ lead. Villanova wouldn’t stage a comeback.

The second game of the series proved equally as frustrating since it was the inability of the pitching staff to hold the Panthers offense that cost the ‘Cats the game. Villanova pulled to within one run on two separate occasions, but the Panthers responded by scoring eight runs in the final three innings to take the game 12-7. 

It was ironic that Villanova finally got a quality performance from its pitchers, only to have the offense go cold. Villanova dropped the series finale 5-3 after a late rally in the ninth inning fell short. 

With only one out remaining in the game and the Wildcats trailing by three, pinch hitter Scott Buckwalter singled and Matt Szczur drove him in with a tripe down the right field line. Justin Bencsko was then hit by a pitch and represented the tying run, but Pitt would record the final out and complete the sweep. 

The Wildcats will need to get both the offense and pitching staff on the same page if they hope to turn the season around. Villanova travels to Florida to take on USF tomorrow.