The recent weather has had a direct effect on the Georgetown men’s baseball team, which has been red-hot during its recent tear.
Winners of four of their last five, the Hoyas (16-12, 2-4 Big East) have been playing extremely well as of late. After dropping three very close games to Rutgers, the Blue and Gray have responded admirably, taking two of three from an historically prominent Notre Dame program and garnering victories against UMBC and Norfolk State.
Last weekend’s three-round bout with the Fighting Irish marked the first time in school history that the Hoyas have won a series against Notre Dame.
Said Head Coach Pete Wilk of his team’s achievement, “This one is definitely going to open up some eyes.”
During a weekend that highlighted both the Final Four and Opening Day in Major League Baseball, the series fit right in to the action-packed sports weekend. Every game of this three-game series was a thriller, as both teams provided high-powered offense and late-inning drama.
In the opening game, the Hoyas broke open a 2-2 deadlock with a four-run fifth inning, giving themselves a sizeable 6-2 advantage. Each team proceeded to tack on a few runs in the following innings, which amounted to a 9-4 Hoya edge entering the top of the ninth inning.
These Big East foes must have forgotten the calendar recently turned to April because in the ninth inning, sheer madness ensued. Unfortunately for the Hoyas, the bullpen imploded. After rallying for two runs, the Irish’s Adam Norton went yard, hitting a three-run shot to even the score at nine apiece.
If the Hoyas were shell-shocked by Notre Dame’s heroic comeback, they definitely did not show it. Senior centerfielder Tommy Lee led off the inning with a single, allowing sophomore right fielder Rand Ravnaas to advance him over to second with a sacrifice bunt. Left fielder Billy Cupelo followed with one of the biggest hits of his four-year career, belting a walk-off RBI single to secure a 10-9 victory.
Although Notre Dame responded with a 12-8 win the next day, the Hoyas had the last word, scoring in double digits once again en route to an 11-7 decision.
Following the Notre Dame series, Georgetown remained at home to play host to local rival UMBC. The Hoyas had a tough time against the scrappy Retrievers, but they were able to walk away with the win, again in walk-off fashion. This time around the hero was freshman pinch-hitter Corbin Blakey, who used his speed to beat out a potential double play to score sophomore Andy Lentz on an RBI fielder’s choice.
After having to hold their breath against UMBC, the Blue and Gray were finally able to exhale and relax in their most recent game, a 13-1 shellacking of Norfolk State.
Despite this recent hot streak, there are many facets of the game that the Hoyas still need to improve on. If the Blue and Gray want to move up in the Big East standings, they are going to need to improve upon their fielding. In the loss to the Irish last Saturday, Georgetown committed five errors.
“We’ve got to play better defense,” Wilk said. “It’s that simple.”
As the Hoyas have reached the midseason point, a few players have risen above and beyond their expectations and contributed significantly to the success of the team.
When asked if he could name his midseason MVP, Coach Wilk could not come up with just one player.
“The four that come to mind are Lee, Ravnaas, Cupelo and [senior pitcher Tim] Adleman.”
Despite sitting out a few games due to injury, Lee, the Hoyas do-it-all centerfielder, leads the team in hits (36), triples (5), and is batting a stellar .400. Most impressively, he boasts a perfect fielding percentage.
Ravnaas is leading the team in batting average (.415) and has come up huge in tight spots throughout the season. Cupelo, the hero of last Friday’s Notre Dame game, has proven that he can deliver when it counts the most, leading the team with 24 RBIs.
For a team that has struggled on the mound this season, Adleman has provided an anchor of steadiness. The senior has been able to last deep into games, as he leads the team with 41.2 innings pitched over seven starts. The veteran also leads the squad with 29 strikeouts.
The Hoyas will have a chance to improve on their Big East record this weekend, as they travel to Tampa to face the South Florida Bulls in a three-game set.
Although the Blue and Gray will be venturing away from home for the first time in nine games, Wilk doesn’t believe the road environment will hurt the Hoyas’ chances. In fact, he thinks it could benefit them.
“I think it might help us actually, especially because it’s in South Florida. We’ve been down there twice and taken it both times,” Wilk said. “Going on the road is sometimes a good thing.”
The series will kick off tonight. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m.