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Baseball Starts Season 0–3 Against Incarnate Word

Courtesy of Villanova Athletics
The Wildcats traveled to San Antonio, TX for their season opening series, falling in all three games.

Villanova played its opening series this past weekend as the Wildcats traveled to San Antonio, TX to take on University of the Incarnate Word. Villanova fell short in all three games.

Opening Day took place on Friday, Feb. 16 at 3 p.m. The first inning set the tone of the game, with Incarnate Word hitting a two-run home run to go up, 2-0.

Villanova answered with two runs of its own off a two-RBI single by freshman infielder Trent Toole. The ‘Cats would then take a 4-3 lead in the top of the 4th inning with RBIs by graduate catcher John Whooley and sophomore infielder Michael Whooley.

This was the only lead the Wildcats would have the rest of the game. The Cardinals scored five runs in the bottom half of the fourth and ran away with it, 12-7.

Although it wasn’t the opening day they hoped for, it was a strong start hitting the ball for the Wildcats. Toole led the way, going 3-for-4, with 2 RBIs and one run. Graduate first baseman Dylan Dennis had a strong first game, as well, going 2-for-2 with two runs and one walk. 

Senior pitcher Devin Rivera was given the start and received his first loss. He pitched 3.0 innings and allowed seven runs on seven hits, a disappointing start for one of Villanova’s top arms. 

Graduate pitcher Zach Camp was the lone bright spot out of the bullpen, striking out two and not allowing a hit in 1.2 innings. 

It was a tough loss to start the year, but the Wildcats had two more games to go. The nail-biter second game took place on Saturday, Feb. 17, and VU lost, 7-6. Villanova scored three runs in the first inning to get an early lead.

Graduate outfielders Scott Shaw and Jack O’Reilly had back-to-back RBIs in the first inning. Junior catcher Josue Valdez accounted for the third run.

After four innings of back-and-forth baseball, the Wildcats and Cardinals were tied, 5–5. Shaw continued his hot day at the plate by hitting a solo home run to even the score. He went 2-5 with two runs and two RBIs.

Incarnate Word took a one-run lead going into the ninth. The Wildcats couldn’t deliver in their last chance at the plate and dropped their second game of the season.

It was another solid offensive performance for Villanova, which saw Dennis as the most consistent hitter yet again. He went 3-for-5 and scored one run.

The pitching performance improved in the second game. Graduate pitcher Luke McCollugh started the game, but only lasted 2.1 innings, allowing five runs on four hits and five walks. 

Villanova pitchers only allowed two runs from Incarnate Word for the remainder of the game. Graduate student Alex Sachais pitched a scoreless 2.2 innings, keeping the Wildcats competitive. Unfortunately, graduate student Ryan Mintz was given the loss after he allowed his only run in the bottom of the eighth, which ultimately lost the game for the Wildcats.

Game three continued a trend seen throughout the whole series. The offense started off hot, but the pitching and defense caused a collapse. 

Both teams started off with four runs in the first inning, followed by the Cardinals scoring in the eighth to seal the game. The Wildcats dropped another one, losing, 9–6.

Jack O’Reilly was a force once again for the ‘Cats, going 1-for-3, with two RBIs and a pair of walks. O’Reilly hit his first home run of the season to get the scoring started in the 1st inning.

The starting pitcher faced problems for the third straight game, as senior Cade Udell allowed five runs on five hits in 2.1 innings.

The bullpen kept the game close, but it wasn’t enough to gain the victory. Graduate pitcher Stephen Turzai had a near flawless relief performance. He allowed no hits and only one walk, while also recording two strikeouts in two innings.

It was a bittersweet performance for the Wildcats, scoring 19 total runs but allowing 28 over the series. Villanova will look to improve on the weekend’s costly mistakes and bounce back in its next matchup.

The Wildcats head to Davidson College on Friday, Feb. 23, for another three-game weekend. They will search for their first victory of the season, and sweeping the series would bring their record back to .500. 

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