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Baseball Outlasted by George Mason in 1–2 Weekend

Courtesy of Villanova Athletics
Graduate Jason Neff recorded three RBIs in Villanova’s 9–2 win over George Mason on Sunday, March 24.

Villanova picked up a pair of narrow losses, 6–5 and 3–2, and one convincing win, 9–2, this weekend in Fairfax, VA against George Mason.

The Wildcats are now 7–14 on the season approaching the start of conference play.

Despite the unfavorable results of the first two games, head coach Kevin Mulvey saw a generally strong performance from the ‘Cats in their latest series on the road.

“I think that we’re moving in the right direction,” Mulvey said. “The pitching has been getting better as a whole, the defense has been good and the bats have been good this year. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to get the job done in crucial spots.”

The first tilt of the double-header on Friday, March 22 resulted in a 6–5 loss.

Three Villanova pitchers took the hill in the opening game of the series.

Graduate Alec Sachais had the loss with one earned run. Graduate Ryan Schwede struck out four and walked two in five innings, while permitting three earned runs. Freshman Jake Francis also pitched three innings, recording three strikeouts and allowing two hits with no runs.

The Patriots opened the competitive series with a pair of RBI doubles in the first inning.

The Wildcats tied the game in the second. Sophomore outfielder Aidan Barry notched a single that scored senior shortstop Cam Hassert. A fielder’s choice then brought in freshman infielder Trent Toole.

George Mason accumulated a 5–2 lead across the third and fourth innings.

Graduate outfielder Scott Shaw contributed significantly to Villanova’s offense on Friday. Shaw finished the day with four hits, including two doubles, in six total at-bats.

The ‘Cats worked in another run in the fifth inning when a Hassert groundout brought Shaw home. Two more runs came in the seventh with a sacrifice fly from graduate catcher Jason Neff that scored graduate Jack O’Reilly along with an RBI single from graduate first baseman Dylan Dennis.

The comeback attempt was incomplete, as the Patriots secured the win from a walk-off wild pitch.

In the afternoon game on Friday, the Wildcats fell again by a close margin, 3–2.

Senior Devin Rivera was Villanova’s starter and took the loss. Rivera finished 5.2 innings of work with two strikeouts and just one walk, while allowing five hits. All three of George Mason’s runs were earned.

Graduate Stephen Turzai relieved Rivera and struck out one.

Shaw put Villanova on board with an RBI single in the first inning, scoring O’Reilly. 

After the Patriots scored one back in the first inning and two more in the third, the ‘Cats were unable to make it around the bases again until the sixth inning. A double to center field off Shaw’s bat scored graduate AJ Hansen.

Rain caused the game to end in the seventh with the Wildcats still behind.

“It was nice to put a win together on Sunday, but I think we should’ve won two of the three,” Mulvey said. “We played well enough to win but didn’t get it done in some crucial spots in the game.”

After the low-scoring day on Friday, Wildcat bats were hot in the 9–2 victory on Sunday.

Villanova pitchers stymied the George Mason lineup in the final game of the series. 

Graduate starter Luke McCollough earned his second win of the season, striking out five and limiting the Patriots to five hits and two runs in his five innings on the mound. Senior Patrick Montfort then came in for the next three innings, recording three strikeouts and no hits or walks. Turzai closed again for the ‘Cats.

After a scoreless first two innings, a two-run homer in the third gave George Mason an early lead.

Villanova batters responded with steady offense in the ensuing innings. Sophomore Michael Whooley and Toole each added two hits.

A sacrifice fly from Dennis brought home Neff in the top of the fourth. Then, sophomore Collin Quintano hit a two-RBI single, scoring Whooley and Hassert to take the lead.

A single from Whooley in the fifth brought in two more runs from Dennis and Neff.

The highlight of the game came in the sixth inning when Neff blasted a two-run homer to give the Wildcats an 8–2 advantage.

Toole tacked on a final run for Villanova from a George Mason balk in the seventh.

Mulvey described Villanova’s struggle to register a winning record thus far as an indication of the team’s need to take advantage of critical moments with more timely hits and big outs.

“It’s all about us,” he said. “The other team doesn’t really have any effect on what we need to do to win: the three facets of throwing strikes, playing good defense and timely hitting.”

Villanova takes on one more non-conference opponent in the Liberty Bell Classic against Rider (5–14) on Tuesday, March 26 in Lawrenceville, NJ.

Big East play commences next weekend as Villanova travels to Washington, D.C. on March 28–30 for a three-game series against Georgetown (16–7).

Tuesday was one last test for the ‘Cats before they land on Hoya territory.

“Our goal is always to make the playoffs and win the conference tournament,” Mulvey said. “If we continue to do what we’re capable of doing, [defeating Rider] can give us more confidence going into the weekend series at Georgetown.”

The time for Tuesday’s matchup against Rider is TBA.

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About the Contributor
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis, Co-Sports Editor
Katie Lewis is a sophomore from Miami, FL in her first year as Co-Sports Editor in 2024. From covering games to writing features and profiles, she loves to find the story behind Villanova sports. Pursuing her enthusiasm for writing and journalism in her studies at Villanova, Katie is double-majoring in English and Communication with concentrations in Journalism and Writing & Rhetoric. When Katie isn’t at Holy Grounds working on her next article, she enjoys playing tennis with Villanova’s club team.
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