Baseball: Wildcat pitching struggles at South Florida



Michael Zipf

Entering its three-game series against the University of South Florida, the baseball team looked to avenge its recent struggles on the road. However, the Wildcat’s inconsistency on the mound, in the field and at the plate continued to plague the team as Villanova dropped its third-consecutive Big East series, losing the first two games of the series. However, the team was able to salvage the third game of the series, securing a 9-7 comeback victory in a highly contested matchup.

With staff ace senior Jordan Ellis on the mound in search of his fourth victory of the season, the Wildcats believed they possessed the right formula to capture the opening game. However, Ellis struggled to regain the form that had garnered him so much success. Over 4.2 innings, Ellis gave up seven hits and six runs while walking five batters.

After trailing 1-0, senior shortstop Derek Shunk’s two-out triple tied the game at 1-1 during the top of the third inning. However, USF stormed back with a run in the third, two runs in the fourth and three runs in the fifth. Both Addison Maruszack and Victor Pina connected on two-run singles in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively, to deliver the decisive hits for the Blue Demons. Although the Wildcats managed to score three runs in the top of seventh to cut into the deficit and close the gap to four, the outcome of the game was never really in doubt.

After their 8-5 defeat in the first game, the Wildcats entered the second game anticipating a strong performance from sensational sophomore pitcher Brian Streilein, who delivered a masterful performance against Louisville during his previous outing. However, the pitching woes that plagued the team in the first game continued, and Streilein lacked his best stuff.

USF delivered an offensive barrage in the first two innings, scoring a total of 10 runs. USF generated 11 extra-base hits and plated 20 runs on 21 hits.

“We struggle in the first two games,” senior second baseman Ryan Arcadia said. “Both Ellis and Streilien just didn’t have their stuff. [USF was] able to capitalize on our mistakes.”

Although the Wildcat’s struggled in general, juniors Matt McFolling, Wesley Borden and Kyle Carver enjoyed sound performances, with McFolling connecting on his fourth homer of the season and Borden and Carver each going 2-for-3.

Recognizing that the third game of the series was a must-win situation for the team, senior Bill Hoffman and junior Josh Eidell delivered solid performances on the mound to give the Wildcats a 9-7 victory.

“We knew that we needed to win the third game of the series if we were going to stay in contention for the Big East playoffs, and we came out with a lot of energy,” Arcadia said.

Trailing 6-5 entering the top of the seventh, six-straight Wildcat batters reached safely after the first two outs were recorded. Pinch hitter Tim Poydenis delivered a clutch RBI single to the tie game. Carver, who along with senior James Dolbier drew walks to start the rally, scored on a wild pitch to give the Wildcats a 6-5 lead. With the lead in its hands, Villanova continued to add insurance runs with freshman Dain Hall and junior Joe Cotter delivering RBI hits.

As the Wildcat’s return home to the confines of Villanova Park, the team recognizes the importance of its upcoming Big East series against Pittsburgh and Rutgers. The team is currently two games out of a playoff spot.

“We always feel that we have an advantage when we are home,” Arcadia said. “Our team is built around our stadium, and the atmosphere is just more comfortable than being on the road. It will be nice to come back home after being away for a while. Our series against Pittsburg and Rutgers are always highly contested and intense matchups.”