Senior infielder Jake Kuzbel recorded two hits and two RBI’s in Wednesday’s game against Coppin State. He has a batting average of .385 and is second on the team with 23 RBIs so far this season. (COURTESY GUHOYAS)
Senior infielder Jake Kuzbel recorded two hits and two RBI’s in Wednesday’s game against Coppin State. He has a batting average of .385 and is second on the team with 23 RBIs so far this season. (COURTESY GUHOYAS)

The Georgetown baseball team kicked off its home season this week with a win over Coppin State at Shirley Povich Field. Wednesday’s home opener came after a weekend series against the Big South’s Gardner-Webb, in which the Hoyas dropped two of three games.

Inconsistent pitching in key situations contributed to the Hoyas’ (13-8) early struggles over the four-game stretch. Senior starting pitcher Simon Matthews fell to 2-2 on the year, allowing five earned runs on 10 hits and two walks over four innings of work during the 8-1 series opening loss against the Bulldogs (10-12).

Georgetown Head Coach Pete Wilk was quick to defend the senior’s recent struggles.

“Simon hasn’t been Simon,” Wilk said. “If he’s him, we’re going to win a lot of games. And he knows that. The kid has a six ERA. That’s not Simon Matthews. It isn’t.”

Gardner-Webb handed Georgetown another tough loss Saturday, in which they capped off a ninth  inning rally with a walk-off sacrifice fly in the 10th.

“I mean it’s disheartening,” Wilk said. “We put the gun to our own head. We loaded the gun and put it next to our head by walking guys and hitting guys. That loss was self-inflicted.”

However, the Hoyas recovered by winning Sunday’s series finale 4-2 behind a strong effort by junior pitcher Kevin Superko. The starter tossed seven strong innings, allowing two runs on seven hits while striking out a pair.

“Gardner-Webb was a really aggressive team,” Superko said. “They swung at a lot of first pitches and wouldn’t really go deep into counts. I just kept trying to throw a good, quality first pitch, so if they swung at it they would make bad contact. And for the most part, that happened Sunday.”

Superko improved to 3-1 on the year, continuing his stretch of success on the mound for Georgetown. Over his past three starts, Superko has pitched 21 innings with a 2.49 ERA and 14 strikeouts.

“I’ve just been trying to get ahead of hitters and not beat myself by walking guys,” Superko said. “I just really try to throw my pitches in the spots they need to be thrown and let the defense behind me work.”

On Wednesday, the Hoyas returned to the Hilltop to play in the familiar confines of Shirley Povich Field for the first time all year, hosting the Coppin State Eagles (3-12, 2-1 MEAC).

“I mean it’s nice to be at Povich, but you still got umpires and an opposing team and you got to throw a little white thing over the plate and hit it with a stick.  It’s baseball.  Personally, obviously it’s nice sleeping in your own bed and having dinner with your own family, but still, when you got down to it, it’s baseball,” Wilk said.

Georgetown defeated Coppin State 14-4 with offensive contributions from junior infielder Jake Bernstein and junior outfielder Michael DeRenzi, who both recorded four hits in the game.

“Mike and Jake put a lot of pressure on opposing pitching staffs,” graduate outfielder Zach Racusin said. “They’ve been doing a great job.  It’s just a lot of fun to be in a lineup where we feel like any given inning, any given at-bat, we can get hot. It makes my job a lot easier.”

Racusin is a graduate transfer from Marist College. In his first year with the Hoyas, he has taken on a leadership role and has drawn high praise from Wilk.

“We’ve been trying to inject what he brings to us, a lot of energy and really good focus, into this team,” Wilk said. “It’s a very good thing for this club, especially the young guys, to see a veteran never take anything for granted. As a coaching staff, when you can point to a peer and just say ‘do that,’ ‘play like that,’ ‘that’s what we’re looking for,’ it’s an easy lesson.”

The Hoyas hope to carry their two-game winning streak north to Rhode Island, where they play Brown (4-6) in a three-game weekend series.

“The next step for us is seeing what we do against quality pitching,” Wilk said.  “I think we will be challenged at Brown. I know they have a couple of guys that have been really good against top-20 teams. I’m looking forward to that challenge and seeing who we really are.”

The three-game series against the Bears begins Saturday with a doubleheader. The first game will be played at 11 a.m. followed by the second game at 2 p.m. The series finale will follow Sunday at 1 p.m. All games are scheduled to be played at Murray Stadium in Providence, R.I.

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