BASE: ‘Cats top Spartans in opening series

Michael Zipf

In their opening series of this season, the Wildcats traveled to Norfolk, Va., where they battled the Spartans of Norfolk State in a three game series. Overall, Villanova had a successful three-game road trip, as the ‘Cats captured two of the three games and demonstrated poise and resilience throughout the series.

“We have a great mix of youth and experience,” sophomore pitcher Kyle Carver said. “Our three senior captains provide great leadership, and our younger players are ready to contribute.”

In the first game, the Wildcats dominated the Spartans in all aspects of the game, earning a resounding 8-1 victory. Villanova displayed offensive prowess and timely hitting, going 4-for-5 with a runner on third base and less than two outs. In addition, seven different Wildcats garnered hits, including senior Jim Gillin, who recorded the team’s first RBI of the season when he doubled off Norfolk starting pitcher De’Mece Williams in the second inning.

“We have a very deep team offensively and have gotten more athletic guys who can play multiple positions in the field,” Villanova Head Coach Joe Gordi said in an interview on

This season, the offense is expected to be the staple of the team as the Wildcats have a relatively young and inexperienced pitching staff. However, the ‘Cats return two of their top three starting pitchers from last season and possess a deep bullpen. Nevertheless, the loss of ace Kevin Mulvey, who was drafted by the New York Mets with the 62nd pick, will have a significant impact on the pitching staff. Senior Mike Loree, who pitched five scoreless innings against Norfolk in the Wildcats’ 8-1 victory, should assume Mulvey’s role as the starting rotation’s ace.

The second game of the series featured a comeback by Villanova. Trailing 7-3 heading into the seventh inning, the Wildcats rallied with two runs in the seventh inning and four more in the eighth to record a 9-7 victory. The eighth-inning outburst marked the second time in as many days that Villanova was able to convert with the bases loaded.

“The comeback was really sparked by our ability to string a bunch of hits together, which we had not been able to do earlier,” Carver said.

A single, a walk and a bunt base hit ignited the rally for the Wildcats, who were trailing 7-5 heading into the top of the eighth inning. Sophomore Wesley Borden tied the game for the Wildcats with a two-run RBI single and fellow sophomores Joe Cotter and Matt McFolling followed with back-to-back singles to give the Wildcats a 9-7 lead. Junior pitcher Gus Guida worked two scoreless innings to record the save, his first of the season for Villanova.

The Wildcats ran into an offensive barrage from the Spartans during the series finale. After enjoying a 1-0 lead early, the Wildcats saw their lead vanish as the Spartans erupted for 11 runs in the sixth inning. The Wildcats’ lineup went quietly away after the Spartans’ offensive explosion and Villanova fell by a final score of 11-2.

“The first two games, we played smart baseball,” Carver said. “We played with great energy and made few mental or physical errors. However, during the third game, we lacked some energy, and they took advantage of that.”