Senior pitcher Jack Vander Linden returned from Tommy John surgery on Wednesday to pitch three scoreless innings, but the Georgetown baseball team’s offense fell short as the team ultimately lost 3-0 to its crosstown rival George Washington.
The Hoyas (1-3) gave up two runs in the seventh inning and one in the eighth to the Colonials (2-1) and could not muster any offense of their own. Playing in Arlington, Va., where GWU plays, Georgetown was shut out for the second time in four games.
Despite the loss, the team considers the game to be a positive sign overall, as Vander Linden was slated to be the ace of the team last season before getting injured in his first start. Now, coming back from injury, he has the potential to make a big impact on Georgetown’s season.
“He looked alright,” Head Coach Pete Wilk said. “I mean his arm strength isn’t where it once was yet. He’s not even a year out of the surgery and we understand that. He competed, he made pitches when he had to and he gave his team a chance to win. He’s going to get better and I’ll take this as a first outing, knowing the whole picture.”
For the time being, Vander Linden will be monitored closely and limited to short starts until his arm strength gets back to what it was pre-injury. Wilk think it will be a long process before Vander Linden can return to form, but he is confident in his pitcher’s future.
“[Vander Linden is] going to build his arm strength, watch his pitch count rise and get back to where he once was,” Wilk said. “He’s not there yet and I didn’t expect him to be, but I do think he’s going to be back to his old self. He needs another month or so, but I was encouraged.”
While Vander Linden has been recovering from his Tommy John procedure, the Georgetown offense has suffered from an early-season slump. The Hoyas have been held to three runs or less in three of their four games and managed only seven singles and a walk in Wednesday’s game.
Georgetown had scoring opportunities in the third and fourth innings, but it failed to capitalize on them. In the third, sophomore center fielder Beau Hall led off the third inning with an infield single and advanced to second base on an error. With two outs, freshman left fielder Austin Shirley singled to right field and Hall attempted to score but was thrown out at the plate.
In the fourth inning, senior first baseman AC Carter singled with one out and advanced to third base before junior designated hitter Curtiss Pomeroy flew out to end the potential rally. Outside of those two innings, the Hoya bats were mostly quiet.
“We watched too many good pitches go by and we got ourselves in defensive counts,” Wilk said. “We need to be more aggressive, especially on the fastball.”
The Hoyas managed to keep the game tied until junior pitcher Tim Davis was brought in to preserve the scoreless tie in the seventh inning. Davis gave up two runs on three hits in his lone inning of work, which was enough for the Colonials to leave Arlington with the win.
Now Georgetown turns its attention to Davidson College (3-2), who Georgetown will play in a three-game series in Davidson, N.C. Due to weather conditions, it remains to be seen whether the games will be played, but Wilk hopes that the games go forward so his team can get more preparation in before conference play.
“We just have to keep playing the game,” Wilk said. “We’ve been on a baseball field now five times, including four games. I don’t mean to start making excuses in any stretch, but we just need to keep playing. We’ve got a good baseball team and we need to get into our rhythm and I don’t know if that’s going to be in Florida [for the Snowbird Baseball Classic from March 7-14] or what.”
Junior Matt Smith, senior Matt Hollenbeck and freshman Kevin Superko will be the Hoyas’ starting pitchers against Davidson, in that order. Because the pitching staff has had a great start to the season, Wilk knows that the key to beating Davidson and having continued success is the team’s hitting.
“We’re a high-quality defensive team right now and I expect us to continue that,” Wilk said. “We’ve pitched well enough to be 4-0 and we’re sitting at 1-3 basically because we haven’t hit up to our expectations.”