The Georgetown baseball team (1-2) travelled to North Carolina this weekend to participate in the season-opening Wake Forest Invitational, losing its first two games against Wake Forest (3-0) 3-1 and Virginia Military Institute (2-2) 4-0 before beating University of Maryland Baltimore County (1-3) 6-5 in 10 innings in a dramatic walk-off win.
The drama of the extra-innings win was amplified by the unlikely hero: sophomore backup catcher Richie O’Reilly. The hit came in his first career at bat, after senior starting catcher Eric Webber was pinch-hit for in the bottom of the ninth. O’Reilly caught the top of the tenth before driving in the winning run on a single.
O’Reilly, who has mainly been utilized as a bullpen catcher thus far in his college career, said he was thrilled with the achievement.
“I was just really grateful for the opportunity. I was ready to go. Our starting catcher [Webber] came up to me and gave me the confidence that he believed in me. That was really important. I’ve got to thank him for that,” O’Reilly said. “All I had to do was keep it simple, stick to the approach our hitting coaches had implemented for the season. Obviously, it worked out pretty well.”
Head Coach Pete Wilk praised the sophomore, citing O’Reilly’s hard work and determination as factors that made his first hit that much more satisfying.
“He’s got the respect of every one of his teammates, and I don’t think there was a kid or coach in that dugout without a huge smile on his face watching how that whole thing transpired,” Wilk said.
“He did a lot of grunt work over the last 18 months of his life and had nothing to show for it, other than being a great bullpen catcher,” Wilk added. “It was so gratifying to see him come through in that situation, as well as the reaction of his teammates. He’s a highly respected kid, duly so, and it was a great moment. It’s one of those things that I’m sure is going to stick with him for a long time.”
Following the extra-innings win, the Hoyas will have plenty to do in preparation for their trip to Davidson (2-1) this weekend. Wilk cited the team’s lack of offensive firepower, his main worry coming into the season.
“To strike out as many times as we struck out is not a good omen for this team. I was concerned about how we’re going to score runs this year, and I remain concerned about that,” Wilk said.
According to O’Reilly, some of those offensive woes may have been caused by an offseason full of terrible weather. O’Reilly noted that a lack of time on the field also contributed to a bit of rust for the team.
“We haven’t seen our field in a couple months. We’ve been indoors. It’s always different playing inside versus outside; the lighting is different, and playing on the field you get a grasp of the game a little bit better.”
Regardless of the two losses, Wilk was optimistic about the team’s chances to improve.
“It’s just a matter of getting on a baseball field consistently, in my opinion. I do think we have the ability to do so. And it’s a matter of some guys stepping up with some guys on base. We didn’t really get a big hit in any of the games until yesterday.”
Wilk emphasized that Georgetown must work harder at strengthening each component of its game, which will ultimately show it can compete with the best.
“Good teams, and I do think we will be one of them eventually, are going to put all three aspects of the game together. They’re going to pitch, they’re going to play defense and they’re going to hit. We’re 1-2 and we haven’t had a game where we can check off those three boxes.”
The Hoyas will return to the field in a three-game series against Davidson this weekend starting Friday at 6 p.m. in Davidson, N.C.