BASE: All-around effort leads to .500 week for Colonels


Kirsten Peters

Freshman pitcher JT Hibschman secured the second victory of his young collegiate career with a 4-3 win over DeSales, following a 6-0 win over Eastern last week.

Kirsten Peters, Co-Sports Editor

With four games on the calendar, Wilkes broke even with a 2-2 week, securing a win against Eastern to finish their three-game series 2-1 and falling in two contests against DeSales to lose their series 2-1. 

After splitting the doubleheader against Eastern last week with a 6-0 victory and an 11-10 loss on Sunday, March 24, the Colonels looked to finish their series with the Eagles in a nine inning contest on Wednesday in St. Davids, Pa.

On a night that proved to showcase senior second baseman Jack Fischer, the Colonels capped off their series against Eastern with an 8-2 victory. 

Fischer, who couldn’t have chosen a better game to reach his 100th career hit, went 4-4 with a walk and proved to be a guarantee for success in the two-hole. 

To kick off his stellar night, Fischer singled to right-centerfield in the first inning. Senior Nicholas Capozzi walked and the two moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. With junior Brandon Reno in the four-hole, his power earned him a double down the left field line, scoring both Fischer and Capozzi to give the Colonels an early 2-0 lead. 

The Colonels and the Eagles appeared to go back-and-forth in a game of small ball, but Wilkes broke open in the top of the seventh when Fischer, who went 4-4 with a walk, doubled down the right field line.

Wilkes closed out the final inning of play by stretching their three-run lead to six runs. Reno finished the game 3-5, and Fischer led the three-game series against Eastern with his stat line. 

Going 6-12 with two walks, Fischer proved to be the Eagles’ Achilles heel, allowing the Colonels to win the series. 

Noting Wilkes’ success against Eastern, Fischer was straight and to the point, “We played some well-fought games.”

Senior Noah Durnin kept the Eagles in check on the mound for seven innings, having five strikeouts and only allowing four hits and one earned run. 

“Starting a new season is always hard, but this week it seemed that we were truly in mid-season form,” said Reno, on the series win over Eastern. “Everyone knew their role on the field, on the bench and in the bullpen.”

After defeating Eastern, the Colonels fell in two out of three contests against DeSales. 

On Friday, Wilkes suffered a substantial blow with an 11-4 loss, just two days after beating Eastern.

Before injuring his hand and being out for the rest of the series, sophomore Nicholas Pronti made his presence known with a lead-off home run to start the second inning. Singles to left field by Reno and sophomore Jonah Harder in the bottom of the third demonstrated Wilkes’ attempt to tighten up the gap DeSales had created, making the game 7-3. 

“On Friday, we were flat. Eveybody played a little too tight and the game got away from us,” said shortstop Michael Patrizio, who filled in for Pronti in the remaining two games of the series.

Despite the Bulldogs deafening seven runs, they tacked on four more between the fourth and the fifth to silence the Colonels. 

Even though Wilkes scored in the bottom of the eighth, DeSales shut down any run at a comeback attempt for the Colonels, allowing their starting pitcher John Poccia to close out the eighth and have Zac Vitorelli come in just for the ninth to get the job done.

However, Saturday proved to be a different set of games for the Colonels, going into extra innings for both games of the doubleheader to make for a long and eventful day. 

“Winning the series against Eastern was huge for us to keep a good spot in the standings, but losing in the first game against DeSales brought us back to reality,” explained Patrizio. “We needed to go into the doubleheader hungry and ready to go.”

From the first inning on Saturday, the Colonels game-play shifted from the dreary day prior. 

With two outs, Capozzi walked and realigned the Colonels’ momentum, leaving a job to be done by Reno in the four-hole. With a homer to left-field, Reno gave Wilkes the two-run advantage and a lead for the first time in their series against DeSales. 

“Reno hit a homer to set the tone in the first, which we needed to get a lead for JT, who we knew would pump strikes and give us a chance,” said Patrizio, on the success of his teammates. “That’s exactly what he did, and he did a fantastic job.”

Reno reiterated Patrizio’s sentiments, highlighting the importance of quality pitching that allows defense to win games.

 “As position players, we love to have good outings from our starting pitching,” said Reno. “That was the case this weekend with our pitchers going right at batters and going out with a confidence that resembled the juniors and seniors.”

With freshman JT Hibschman on the mound, the newbie snagged his second victory of his young career, following his standout performance that earned Wilkes their 6-0 victory in game one against Eastern.

Going for 7.2 innings and only allowing the final third of the game to be finished by sophomore pitcher Andrew Indzonka, Hibschman struck out four batters and kept the Bulldogs to four hits and three runs in the low-scoring game. 

“This week we came back from a tough Friday to only allow five runs combined on Saturday,” said Hibschman. “Hopefully, we can use this weekend as a launchpad for the rest of the year.”

Harder, who found himself as the lead-off batter for the game, stretched the Colonels’ lead to 3-1 in the third inning with a single to centerfield that allowed him to score on Capozzi’s sac-fly to center. 

With a .571 batting average on seven at bats and a walk, Harder led Wilkes’ offensive stats for the DeSales series. However, a tight hamstring prevented him from playing in game three.

Despite the Bulldogs’ ability to tie the game up at three in the bottom of the sixth, the Colonels pushed the first game of the doubleheader to the top of the eighth. 

With one out, three consecutive walks left bases loaded for Patrizio. A sac-fly to centerfield did the job and allowed junior Matthew Reinert to tag up from third and cross the plate for the 4-3 victory.

“The infield was in and I knew I just had to put a ball in the outfield and get the run in,” said Patrizio. “I was looking for a first-pitch fastball up in the zone. I got it and put a good swing on it that was deep enough for Reinert to score on.”

In the second game of the doubleheader, DeSales and Wilkes competed in the same fashion – low scoring and into extra innings.

“We are in every game and this weekend was just another example of that,” said Reno.  “It was a test in our ability to bounce back, and if we play like we did this weekend, I can guarantee a playoff spot for the Colonels.”

With freshman Gage Coudriet on the mound, who previously helped Wilkes defeat Misericordia 11-3, only one run was put on the board by the Bulldogs in the bottom of the third. 

The Colonels answered with a run of their own in the top of the fifth to tie the game up. Wing doubled to left-centerfield and pinch-hitter sophomore Bryan Nifenecker fulfilled his role with a productive groundout to the right side that scored Wing for the 1-1 tie. 

However, that proved to be the Colonels only run, as DeSales secured the walk-off victory in the bottom of the eighth, winning not only the game 2-1 but also the series 2-1 over Wilkes. 

“The team is fairly happy with where we stand at this point now that both of our conference series against last season’s top two teams, DeSales and Misericordia, are behind us,” said Fischer, before he echoed playoff aspirations similar to Reno’s mindset. “We have put ourselves in a good position to make playoffs by the end of the year.”

With playoffs already on the horizon for the Colonels, their series against Manhattanville, which starts on Friday at 3:30 p.m. at Wilkes’ Artillery Park, could be the Colonels next stepping stone toward their goal.  

“We battled and gave it all we had against DeSales, and I’m excited to get back to work this week and take down Manhattanville starting on Friday,” said Patrizio.

To follow the Colonels non-conference matchups, Wilkes will play back-to-back games against Marywood and Cabrini on Tuesday and Wednesday at 3:30 p.m, respectively.