Baseball: Comeback ‘Cats sweep Hoyas

Michael Zipf

Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” This euphoric metaphor has become a staple of the baseball team over the last few games, as the team reeled off five-straight victories, culminating in a three-game sweep over the Georgetown Hoyas, which featured two comeback victories.

Early in the season, the Wildcats (13-15, 4-5 Big East) struggled with inconsistencies on both the offensive and pitching ends, leading to a 1-5 start. Combining timely hitting and effective pitching, Villanova has recently rejuvenated its season, propelling them from the cellar of the Big East to an eighth-place standing.

The ascension in the Big East standings began on April 4, when Villanova used a three-run fifth inning to catapult itself past Georgetown with a final score of 6-4. Senior Jordan Ellis pitched a masterful game, yielding three earned runs and recording eight strikeouts in 7.2 innings. Junior Josh Eidell recorded his third save of the season. Villanova has earned seven straight victories when both Ellis and Eidell pitch in the same game.

Villanova was able to strike first when senior Dan Terpak walked with the bases loaded in the third inning to force in classmate Ryan Arcadia. The Hoyas captured a brief lead in the top of the fourth inning when Erick Fernandez belted a three-run homer off Ellis.

Recognizing that a victory over Georgetown was imperative and could potentially swing the momentum of their season, the Wildcats clawed back in the fifth inning, scoring four runs on just three hits. Arcadia reached first on an error to start the inning, stole second and crossed the plate on junior center fielder Joe Cotter’s single. Junior Joe Rosati capped off the four-run inning with a two-out RBI single to give the Wildcats a 5-3 lead that they never relinquished.

Currently, Villanova is 10-1 at Plymouth Field where the Wildcats play in their home games.

“During a recent winning streak, our seniors have really stepped up,” junior pitcher Kyle Carver said. “We started to play with a sense of urgency and energy.”

Heading into the second game of the three-game series, the Wildcats looked to build upon their strong performance in the first game. Backed by a late four-run rally in the eighth inning, Villanova captured an impressive 5-3 victory over the Hoyas, marking the second time in two weeks that the Wildcats earned back-to-back victories.

Sophomore Brian Streilien delivered a dominating performance on the mound, cruising through the first five innings by retiring 15 of the first 16 batters. Streilien surrendered a go-ahead two-run triple by Matt Harrigan to give the Hoyas a 3-1 lead. Looking to increase their lead, the Hoyas used a small-ball approach during the top of the eigth to place runners on the corners with two outs. Yet, senior pitcher Gus Guida was able to escape the jam.

Trailing 3-1 entering the bottom of the eighth, senior Tim Poydenis delivered a pinch-hit single to ignite the Wildcats’ comeback. Arcadia followed with a single up the middle to place runners on second and first with no outs. Using their typical approach, Head Coach Joe Godri called for Cotter to lay down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position. After a pinch-hit walk by Carver, senior shortstop Derek Shunk, a NCBWA Preseason First-Team All-American honoree, lined a sharp single into right field to close the gap to 3-2. Terpak tied the game with an infield single. Senior right fielder James Doblier cemented the Wildcats’ comeback by beating out a potential inning-ending ground ball, allowing the winning run to cross the plate.

“That eighth inning was huge,” Carver said. “We were able to string together some timely hits, which we haven’t been able to do on a consistent basis all season.”

With momentum on their side entering the series finale, the Wildcats relied on a dazzling performance by Carver, who earned his first collegiate win by pitching 5.2 innings of one-run baseball. Carver, who had been used solely as a relief pitcher, scattered six hits with three strikeouts during his first career start.

On the offensive end, Dolbier and Terpak combined to drive in all five Wildcat runs. After Georgetown captured an early 1-0 lead in the top half of the first inning, Villanova clawed back with a two-out rally in the bottom half, scoring a pair of runs on Dolbier’s double. Terpak and Dolbier’s back-to-back singles in the third inning extended Villanova’s lead to 4-1. During the seventh inning, Terpak delivered his second RBI of the game and fifth of the series to give the Wildcats a 5-1 victory.

“Sweeping Georgetown puts us right back into the thick of the Big East standings,” Arcadia said. “For this senior class, it marked the first team we swept a Big East series, and hopefully we will be able to build upon this.”