Junior catcher Richie O'Reilly sports a .315 on-base percentage on eight hits this season. O'Reilly has started 14 of Georgetown's 17 games this season. (COURTESY GUHOYAS)
Junior catcher Richie O’Reilly sports a .315 on-base percentage on eight hits this season. O’Reilly has started 14 of Georgetown’s 17 games this season. (COURTESY GUHOYAS)

The Georgetown baseball team spent its spring break participating in the Snowbird Baseball Classic in Port Charlotte, Fla., where the team’s offense heated up. The Hoyas went 7-1 in the Sunshine State while averaging over nine runs during the eight-game stretch.

Senior first baseman Jake Kuzbel led the offensive charge for the Hoyas, helping the team improve to 11-6 on the year. Kuzbel hit .550 over the final five games of the tournament, going 11-for-20 at the plate with eight runs batted in, seven runs scored and three extra base hits. His efforts earned him the Big East Player of the Week award.

“It was nice to get down to the nice weather in Florida, playing baseball every single day,” Kuzbel said. “It’s so easy to play in those conditions.”

Four of Kuzbel’s hits came in a late-inning comeback victory against Western Michigan (7-6), when Georgetown scored 10 unanswered runs to win 12-8 in the 11th inning.

“I’m standing out in the field on the sixth inning thinking about what I’m going to say to the kids when we’re down six or seven,” Georgetown Head Coach Pete Wilk said. “Obviously, that speech changed drastically after we put up 10 runs.”

The game also happened to be on Kuzbel’s birthday.

“The baseball gods were on my side,” Kuzbel said. “I just tried to do my job, find a good pitch to hit and trust the guys after me to do their job and get me in.”

Kuzbel’s Player of the Week award marks the second consecutive week a Hoya has taken home the Big East honor. Junior center fielder Michael DeRenzi won the award March 6. DeRenzi continued his hot hitting in Florida, batting .444 (16-36) with 12 runs batted in and his second grand slam of the season.

“[I’ve] just been trying to get a good pitch to hit,” DeRenzi said. “I try to put the ball in play hard somewhere, not necessarily trying to hit a great slam or smoke it to the fence. Just put the ball in play, have a quality at-bat and get a good pitch to hit, as always.”

Georgetown’s successful Snowbird Classic run was also the result of strong starting pitching.  Senior starting pitcher Simon Williams, junior starting pitcher Kevin Superko and sophomore starting pitcher Jack Cushing all went 2-0 during the Florida tournament, with Williams notching a career-high 11 strikeouts in the series opener against Lafayette (2-14).

“We had some really good outings,” Wilk said. “Simon had two good outings down there, not unexpected. It’s who he is. Superko had a tremendous outing against Ball State, that was terrific, and even threw well against Lafayette.”

Up next, the Hoyas have a weekend series at Gardner-Webb (7-11). Wilk hopes the Hoyas’ recent success continues in North Carolina.

“I just hope we can get back into our rhythm,” Wilk said. “We were obviously in a nice rhythm coming out of Florida. If we can be back to who we are, I think we will take care of ourselves this weekend.”

The three-game series against the Runnin’ Bulldogs begins Friday at 6 p.m., followed by Saturday’s game at 2 p.m. and the series finale Sunday at 1 p.m. All games are scheduled for Bill Masters Field at John Henry Moss Stadium in Boiling Springs, N.C.

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