So close, yet so far.
That seems to be the mantra for the Hoyas as of late. This weekend, Georgetown lost three consecutive games to the St. John’s Red Storm, two of which were decided by a one-run margin. With these two narrow defeats, the Hoyas have now lost eight league games by a combined total of thirteen runs. A hit here, a fielding play there, and instead of staring at a 2-13 conference record, the Blue and Gray would be at .500, primed to make a deep playoff run.
“The fact that we can’t hold onto leads is exasperating,” said Head Coach Pete Wilk. “It’s extremely frustrating.”
In the first contest of the three-game set held at Jack Kaiser Field in Queens, New York, Georgetown jumped out to an early lead. Clearly not intimidated by the bright lights of New York, the Hoyas wasted no time displaying their offensive firepower, scoring two runs in the top of the first and tacking another on in the third to gain an initial 3-0 advantage.
Throughout the next few innings, the Johnnies and Hoyas played a good old-fashioned game of run exchange. After the Red Storm responded with three runs of their own, the Hoyas replied by adding two more runs of their own. Heading into the top of the eighth, the Blue and Gray were holding a 7-4 lead.
In accordance with their recent tendency of blowing late-inning leads, Georgetown let yet another one slip away. The Red Storm rallied to tie the score with a three-run eighth, evening the game heading into the final inning. The Hoyas were unable to halt St. John’s momentum and went down quietly in the ninth giving way to the hot bats of the Red Storm. Unfortunately for Wilk’s squad, the Johnnies delivered a walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth, finishing another heartbreaking loss for Georgetown.
If Friday’s game was painful, Saturday’s game was excruciating. After putting up a ten-spot in the third inning, Georgetown had built itself a seemingly insurmountable 13-5 lead. However, the Hoya faithful were once again forced to watch another late-inning collapse, as the Red Storm caught offensive lightning in a bottle, rallying to tie the score at 13 and sending the contest into extra innings. St. John’s continued to stay hot in the 10th, as they manufactured yet another game winning run.
Offensively, the Blue and Gray were led by senior left fielder Billy Cupelo, who finished the day 3-for-6 with a home run and three RBI. Junior third baseman Sean Lamont also contributed two hits, three RBI, and a bomb of his own.
Perhaps mentally exhausted by the gut-wrenching results of the previous two games, Georgetown was thoroughly dominated by St. John’s in the final game, falling meekly by a score of 15-5.
After dropping those three games, the Hoyas now stand at 19-21 overall and are an abysmal 2-13 in conference play.
It’s been no secret that the Hoyas have not played up to par in the field this season. In their most recent late inning disintegration, the Blue and Gray committed two fielding miscues.
“If we just [played] average college defense, we would be .500 in the conference,” Wilk lamented.
“Our defense is just killer.”
Wilk believes that the Hoya’s fielding woes have directly affected other aspects of the team’s performance, namely pitching.
“The pitchers realize the defense is not strong, and they’re trying to do too much,” said Wilk.
If the Blue and Gray wants to finish off the season with a respectable conference record, their pitches must be able to trust their defense..
From here, the road only gets tougher for the Hoyas. Tomorrow, they will travel down to Charlottesville, Virginia to face the University of Virginia, a team currently ranked No. 1 in the country by the Baseball America Poll. Obviously, a win against the nation’s top team would do wonders for the Georgetown baseball program.
“It would be an enormous win, no question,” Wilk said. “If we could beat a program of that stature, it’d be a feather in our cap.”
Despite struggling recently, Wilk truly believes his team possesses the talent to beat any ballclub in the land.
“We could beat anyone in the country if we play consistently,” Wilk said.
In many ways, this is an exciting opportunity for the Hoyas. Down on their luck in the Big East, they are met with little expectations regarding this out-of-conference matchup. Simply put, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain, as a win of this caliber would be a tremendous statement.
Georgetown is well aware that they will be going into this game as heavy underdogs. But as Wilk put it, outcomes are not necessarily defined by statistics.
“Games aren’t won on paper,” Wilk said.
As the famous phrase goes, that’s why we play the game.