Offense stalls, Wildcats swept



Jon Albert

The baseball team (18-11, Big East 2-7) lost all three games of its series against the Connecticute Huskies (22-7, 7-2) over the weekend.  While its pitchers all gave good performances, the lack of offense proved to be the reason for all three defeats.

After a Friday rainout, the ‘Cats lost the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader 2-1 in extra innings and fell 6-0 in the second game of the day. Sunday proved to be more of the same, as the team fell 8-2 to the Huskies.

In the first matchup of the weekend series, both pitchers shut down the other team’s offense for most of the game. Senior pitcher Brian Streilein pitched 7.2 innings and only gave up one run — an eighth inning home run to Mike Olt. It was Streilein’s best performance of the season, giving up only five hits while striking out seven. Conversely, UConn pitcher Elliot Glynn held the ‘Cats hitless for the first five innings, but gave up a run when sophomore shortstop Marlon Calbi doubled in sophomore first baseman Kevin Wagner to score the lone Wildcat run.  

After a stalemate pushed the game to extra innings, a Joe Pavone single with a runner on second gave the Huskies the 10th-inning victory, 2-1.

In the second game of the doubleheader, the ‘Cats struggled mightily to put together any kind of offense against Connecticut starter Greg Nappo. The team managed six hits in the nightcap, double the total of its earlier game, but couldn’t get any of its runners across the plate. 

Nappo confused the Wildcat batters for much of the evening, striking out eight and allowing zero walks. Senior center fielder Justin Bencsko was the only member of the team to have a multi-hit game on the day. Overall, the team hit a paltry 1-12 with runners in scoring position, which undoubtedly led to its scoring woes. Wildcat starting pitcher Kyle Helisek pitched six solid innings, allowing four runs to score while recording four strikeouts. The ‘Cats eventually lost 6-0.

The Wildcats tried to salvage the final game of the series on Sunday, but the Huskies’ offense, coupled with another poor showing by the Villanova lineup, proved to be too much for the ‘Cats. Sophomore starting pitcher Kyle McMyne did not have one particularly bad inning, but rather a few mediocre ones. 

McMyne surrendered two runs in the second inning and gave up solo home runs in both the third and fourth innings. One positive for McMyne was his strikeout total; he recorded eight, a career high.  The sole source of offense for the ‘Cats on Sunday was from catcher Chris Johnson. Johnson, a graduate student and recent graduate of James Madison University, hit his first career Villanova home run in the sixth inning, a two-run shot, to close the gap to 6-2. The team would get no closer, however, and lost by the final score of 8-2.

After getting swept on the road, the team will likely be looking forward to returning to the Main Line for its next five games. The team has consistently fared much better at home than on the road this season. The ‘Cats are 8-3 on their home field in Plymouth Meeting and are just 1-6 in road games. 

The team went 9-2 in games played at neutral sites, but will likely not play another game on a neutral site until the Big East tournament. For the ‘Cats to bounce back into contention in the Big East, they will have to put on a strong performance this weekend when they host the Pittsburgh Panthers.  

The first pitch of that series is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. in Plymouth Meeting.