Baseball Goes 0-3 on the Weekend


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Villanova struggles to bring home a win in hard-fought weekend of play.

James Haupt, Staff Writer

The opening weekend for Villanova baseball proved to be busy and action-packed as the team traveled to Arizona to play at Peoria Sports Complex. 

The Wildcats lost all three games this weekend, losing to Washington State twice and California Riverside once.

In their double-header on Friday, the Wildcats lost to WSU, 7-0, and then fell to Cal Riverside, 7-2. 

In the first game, against WSU, there was a lot to be excited about on the mound and at the plate. The Wildcats had a strong start to the game as graduate transfer SS Craig Larsen smacked a double as the second batter of the game. 

That hit would end up being one of two for Villanova in this game, as they were mostly shut down at the plate. Senior captain CF AJ Hansen added to the hit tally with a double in the top of the fifth. 

Transfer pitcher Sal Fusco gave up six runs on four hits and four walks. However, he recorded seven strikeouts in 3.1 innings pitched. 

Two other pitchers made strong appearances later in this game. Graduate transfer Stephen Turzai replaced Fusco in the fourth inning, and allowed one run on zero hits in three innings. 

The last pitcher to come in was freshman Luke Matta, who only allowed one hit and zero earned runs in 1.2 innings. This was a strong start for the freshman, and head coach Kevin Mulvey made the right call this late in the game. 

“There’s a lot of innings, a lot of opportunities,” Mulvey said. “It’s opening weekend, you’re trying to feel out your staff. [Matta] proved the moment was not too big.” 

The Wildcats tried to come back late in the game, but the score remained 7-0, as Villanova recorded their first loss of the season.  

The second game of the day proved to be a closer battle, but the Wildcats still fell, 7-2, to UC Riverside. 

Villanova was able to get the bats going in this game, as they recorded two runs on eight hits. Both runs were scored by graduate transfer and second baseman Luke Mutz, who hit a two-run homerun in the top of the fourth, which gave Villanova the lead. 

However, the Wildcats quickly lost the lead, thanks to a six-run inning for UC Riverside. A large amount of these runs was accounted for by the Villanova fielding errors, as they recorded three in the game.

On the mound, junior pitcher Devin Rivera allowed only three earned runs on nine hits in five innings, but the errors caused him to allow seven runs total. This was a strong performance from Rivera, which shouldn’t be shadowed by the mistakes on the field. 

“The results were unfortunate,” Mulvey said. “[Rivera’s] performance did not reflect what he did on the mound. He pitched to contact well.” 

Junior pitcher Cade Udell replaced Rivera and had a strong two innings with no hits or runs, and had two strikeouts. Graduate transfer pitcher Cabot Maher had a near flawless inning in the eighth, when he recorded two strikeouts on his way to a 1-2-3 inning. 

But, despite the strong pitching and hitting efforts, the Wildcats walked away 2-0 at the end of the first day of play. 

Looking ahead to the next day of play, Villanova was eager for revenge over WSU after losing the first game, but fell again to the Cougars in a 22-7 blowout, despite putting up seven runs.  

There were three Villanova position players that had strong performances in this game. Senior first baseman Jack O’Reilly went 2-4 with one walk, one RBI and one run scored. 

Graduate transfer 3B Steve Grober went 2-4 as well, with one RBI and two runs scored. Junior RF August Biggio improved his OBP as he went 1-2 with two walks on the day. 

There was much to be desired on the mound, as Villanova let up a combined 22 runs. Senior pitcher Frank DeGaetano was given the loss in what was an unfortunate outing. He allowed six earned runs on seven hits in three innings, but was able to get six strikeouts along the way. 

However, the box score doesn’t truly depict how he performed. 

“Each game has its own identity,” Mulvey said. “We want to pound the zone, get ahead and make them beat us. That’s our main focus.” 

Despite a tough start to the season, the Wildcats still have much to play for as they look ahead to their upcoming competition this weekend. 

The ‘Cats will head to Jacksonville, Florida to take on the University of North Florida on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, in hopes that they can bring their record to an even .500.