When the Georgetown baseball team traveled to Davidson, N.C. to play Davidson in a doubleheader, freshman left fielder Austin Shirley recorded four base hits and reached base seven times in the best performance of his young career.
However, the rookie’s efforts were not enough to lead the Hoyas to a victory, as Georgetown (1-5) lost both games against Davidson (5-2) on Sunday, dropping the first game 6-2 and the second 12-11.
The second loss was particularly heartbreaking for the Hoyas, as they were poised to win the game until the Wildcats scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to earn the walk-off victory and sweep the doubleheader.
Against Davidson, the pitching staff, which was expected to be one of Georgetown’s primary strengths, struggled mightily and set the tone for the unsuccessful day in North Carolina.
In game one, senior pitcher Matt Hollenbeck lasted five innings, giving up three runs on four hits and three walks. In game two, junior pitcher Matt Smith lasted just 4 and 1/3 innings, giving up six runs, five earned, on nine hits and three walks.
In spite of their tough outings, Head Coach Pete Wilk believes that his top two pitchers will be able to fix their early season troubles.
“Smith has got to close up his front side, which is an issue he’s had in the past,” Wilk said. “His stuff was very average yesterday. At Wake Forest [on Feb. 13] it was very good. It’s been a constant battle with his front side. Holly [Matt Hollenbeck] has just got to be more pitch efficient.”
Georgetown started off its first matchup with Davidson on a positive note, scoring a run in the first inning of the first game. After that, however, the team’s offense stalled and only scored one more run in the next eight innings, by which point Davidson already had built a 6-1 lead.
After Hollenbeck was taken out of the game, freshman pitcher Jimmy Swad gave up three runs in the sixth inning, though two of those runs scored on a two-run error by freshman second baseman Chase Bushor.
Game two initially appeared much more promising, as the Hoyas jumped out to a 6-1 lead after 3 and 1/2 innings. Four players had multiple hits and seven different players scored at least one run for the Hoyas, yet 11 runs were not enough to earn the victory.
In the fourth inning, an RBI single by Bushor and a two-run single by senior first baseman AC Carter gave Georgetown a five-run advantage, but the Hoyas gave up three runs in the fourth and five runs in the fifth, putting themselves on the short end of a 9-7 score.
In the eighth inning, trailing 9-8, the Hoyas scored three runs — all with two outs — to take the lead. Sophomore right fielder Joseph Bialkowski scored on a wild pitch, sophomore third baseman Jake Kuzbel scored on a bases loaded walk and junior catcher Eric Webber scored on an RBI single by Bushor to give the Hoyas an 11-9 lead. Kuzbel and Webber each scored their third runs of the game in the inning.
However, the lead was not big enough for sophomore pitcher Simon Mathews, who had been brought in during the fifth inning and had pitched 3 and 1/3 scoreless innings to that point.
Mathews allowed the first three Davidson batters to reach base before sophomore pitcher David Ellingson replaced him. Ellingson did not record an out and gave up two hits, an intentional walk and a wild pitch. The three runs were all charged to Mathews.
After dropping five of six games to start the season, the Hoyas are now left trying to figure out how to turn this season around.
“I’d say just not taking our foot off the gas pedal,” Shirley said. “We were up 6-1 after the fourth inning and let them climb back into it. We just have to shut them down and put them away. We had the game won. But we’re heading the right direction, even though it’s going to be a slow start. Everyone is pushing towards one goal and that’s winning.”
Wilk views the lack of consistent playing time as the reason Georgetown has struggled so much early on. The Hoyas have had multiple games cancelled due to weather, including a game scheduled for Friday at Davidson, and have not been able to practice much together as a team.
“We need a chance to play the game outside in good weather and work on the game and get some rhythm. We’re not able to get any kind of rhythm. Nobody is in the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic. It’s not just us. But that’s what’s been so frustrating about this. I still think we’ve got a very good team here but we cannot get in any kind of rhythm that will allow us to just relax.”