BSEBL: ‘Cats drop Big East opener to Cardinals

Michael Zipf

The men’s baseball team faced Big East powerhouse and rival Louisville last weekend in a three-games series, which featured a Saturday doubleheader, with the Wildcats capturing the first game. Senior Mike Loree and junior Dan Terpak sparked the Wildcats’ victory, with Loree pitching a nine-inning shutout and Terpak scoring the game-winning run after he doubled to lead off the ninth inning. Loree’s stellar pitching performance allowed Villanova to capture its first Big East victory of the season and propelled its record to 9-6. During, Loree’s outing, he only surrendered four hits and consistently kept Louisville hitters off-balance throwing a resounding 65 percent of his pitches for strikes.

Heading into the ninth inning with the game scoreless, the Wildcats capitalized on one of their few scoring chances of the game. Terpak doubled off Louisville senior reliever Kyle Hollander to ignite the Wildcat offense. After senior Jim Gillin was hit by a pitch, Villanova Head Coach Joe Gordi used a “small ball” approach, having sophomore Matt McFolling lay down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners. Louisville misplayed to McFolling’s bunt, allowing Terpak to score on the throwing error.

“Dan’s double was such a significant play because it allowed us to put a runner in scoring position with less than two outs,” sophomore pitcher Kyle Carver said. “We were then able to execute and use some ‘small ball’ to win the game.”

The nightcap of the doubleheader featured an offensive barrage from the Cardinals and numerous Villanova miscues. In each of the first four innings, Louisville recorded runs and then erupted for five more runs in the sixth inning. However, in the fourth inning, the Wildcats sparked a comeback, capitalizing on a Louisville error to cut the deficit in half, 4-2. The sixth inning saw the Wildcat’s demise, as two key errors allowed the Cardinals to record five runs off three hits.

“In the second and third games, we just made some mental and physical errors that cost us the game,” Carver said. “In both games weren’t able to get much mounted offensively.”

The Wildcats narrowly escaped the sixth-inning jam with minimal damage; however, two consecutive throwing errors allowed three more runners to score.

Offensively, the Cardinal pitchers held the Wildcats to three hits. Cardinal reliever Colby Walker pitched three-and-a-third hitless innings, striking out seven to record his second win of the season. Terpak had another solid game for the Wildcats, going 1-3. In total, Villanova committed five errors, many of which led to unearned runs.

The final game of the three-game series featured a similar tone and outcome for Louisville’s offense. Trailing by four runs in the bottom of the third inning, Villanova mounted a comeback and narrowed the score to 4-3. Junior Ryan Arcadia sparked a three-run bottom of the third, knocking in Villanova’s first run of the game with an RBI single. Junior Derek Shunk, who saw his 12-game hitting streak end the previous game, and Terpak delivered RBI groundouts to cut the deficit to one. However, Louisville proceeded to load the bases with one out in the sixth inning, and senior Dan Burton delivered a game-breaking two-run single to increase the Cardinals’ lead. Louisville continually applied pressure on Villanova pitchers, placing its leadoff man on base during eight on the nine innings. Louisville went on to capture the game with a 10-3 victory. Ultimately, Villanova’s inability to manufacture runs and deliver timely hits, along with a couple defensive errors, prevented the Wildcats from capturing the series.