The Florida heat proved to be too much for the Blue and Gray as they were burned on the wrong end of a three-game sweep.
This weekend, the Hoyas traveled to Tampa, Fla. to face off against the University of South Florida.
The series was an excellent chance for the Hoyas to gain some ground in the Big East. With the three losses, however, Georgetown now stands at 2-7 in Big East play and 16-15 overall.
Despite the unfortunate outcome, Georgetown Head Coach Pete Wilk is keeping things in perspective.
“It’s only three games out of six. We’re moving forward and going back to work,” he said.
The Bulls are by no means a pushover opponent. At 8-1, they are sitting pretty atop the Big East standings.
“This is probably a team that’s going to end up [ranked] one, two or three in the conference,” Wilk said.
Although the Bulls are skilled offensively, they are most noted for their pitching. Their ace, Randy Fontanez, was named Big East Preseason Pitcher of the Year. Fontanez has certainly lived up to his billing, pitching a no-hitter in USF’s Big East opener earlier this season.
Naturally, the Hoyas faced off against Fontanez in the first game of the series.
Although Fontanez stifled the Hoyas early on, Georgetown proved to be resilient. After falling into a 5-0 hole, the Blue and Gray produced a spirited rally in the bottom of the fifth. After senior shortstop Tom Elliot led off the inning with a double, senior centerfielder Tommy Lee and sophomore Rand Ravnaas both drew walks to load the bases. Senior leftfielder Billy Cupelo took advantage of the opportunity, smashing a bases-clearing double to halve the lead to 6-3.
With two outs, junior catcher Erick Fernandez belted a double to left center, scoring Cupelo to cut the South Florida advantage to just two runs.
But that was all the Hoyas were able to get off Fontanez. The Bull’s ace lasted seven innings, gave up four runs and recorded three walks and 10 strikeouts.
Meanwhile, South Florida tacked on a run in both the fifth and sixth innings to extend their edge to 8-4. Following Fontanez’ exit, the South Florida bullpen effectively shut down the Hoyas’ bats, sealing the Bulls’ victory.
Saturday’s game followed a very similar storyline, as the Hoyas struggled mightily against junior Andrew Barbosa, another talented Bull’s pitcher. Through six innings of work, Barbosa recorded an impressive 11 strikeouts, allowing only two runs. In the remaining three innings, South Florida relievers combined to allow just one hit en route to a 4-2 victory.
“I had no problems with our performance on Friday and Saturday,” Wilk said. “We battled our butts off against two top pitchers in the conference. . If we had a break here and a break there, we could’ve won. But that’s baseball.”
Sunday, however, was a different story.
“Sunday, we didn’t do much well,” Wilk said. “Sunday we saw a very average pitcher that I thought we were going to rip, and we didn’t.”
In the final game of the series, the Georgetown offense was lifeless, scrapping together only two runs in a 6-2 defeat. Additionally, the Hoya defense coughed up two errors. Defensive woes have been a recurring problem for the Hoyas throughout the season.
“We’re going back to work,” Wilk said.
Although the Hoyas are certainly not where they would like to be in the conference standings, there is still room for improvement. The Blue and Gray have three game sets against six other Big East foes, and the brunt of Georgetown’s rough conference schedule is behind them. They have already faced two out of the top three teams in the standings in USF and Rutgers.
The Hoyas will get back to work this evening when Georgetown plays host to Mount St. Mary’s under the lights at Shirley Povich Field in Bethesda, Md.
If their past play serves as any indication, the Hoyas should respond well against the Mount. After being swept by Rutgers a few weekends ago, the Hoyas proceeded to win four out of their next five games.
First pitch is set for 7 p.m.