Things were bleak from the start of the Colonels series finale with Manhattanville on Sunday when head coach Kevin Gryboski was ejected from the game during the ground-rules meeting at home plate before the contest even began.
Without their head coach and tensions running high, the Colonels faced a steep competition against the Valiants, whom they split a doubleheader with the day before.
On Saturday, Wilkes exceled in the first game of the three-game series, defeating the Valiants 6-1 with senior pitcher Noah Durnin leading the charge on the mound for 5.2 innings, allowing only one run.
Although the Colonels proved to struggle with their bats for the rest of the series, there was no issue in the first game of the doubleheader.
Senior Nicholas Capozzi went 3-for-3 with a double to left-center and two singles, as well as a sacrifice-fly. Junior Matthew Reinert went 3-for-4, with almost the same stat line as Capozzi, earning himself a double and two singles. Senior Jack Fischer complemented the two with a double of his own in the two-hole, going 2-for-5 on the game.
“Our bats really came alive throughout the week, as well as some solid pitching performances,” said Reinert, who went .444 overall on nine at bats for the series. “We didn’t finish off the Manhattanville series how we wanted, but there’s a lot to learn from and we still control our own destiny.”
Despite Wilkes’ positive start with the game-one victory, the Colonels fell in their remaining two matchups with Manhattanville.
In the second contest, the Colonels scored their lone run in the top of the first, leaving the flood-gates open for Manhattanville throughout the course of six innings.
Sophomore Michael Patrizio doubled down the rightfield line in the first at bat of the game and scored off of a sac-fly by Capozzi. However, Patrizio’s hit proved to be the only one that counted out of their measly four-hit game, as Manhattanville beat the Colonels 12-1 to split the doubleheader.
After a double-digit loss the day prior and a meeting at the plate that cost the Colonels their coach, a win for Wilkes wasn’t in the cards for game three.
However, the 33-8 loss was not what Colonel fans expected on their home field.
Although the game started out in typical fashion with Manhattanville only scoring three runs in the top of the first, the Valiants ultimately had a 21-5 lead after the fourth inning.
Even though the game appeared to be going in the Valiants favor, an ejection by the umpire added insult to injury in the Colonels defeaning defeat.
With sophomore third baseman Charles Giacometti being tossed from the game for allegedly uttering unsportsmanlike words, the Colonels were forced to put in back-up third baseman sophomore Robert Iacono.
However, with the ejection came a slew of substitutions for the Colonels that allowed their second-string men to get some playing time in the Valiants dominating 33-8 victory.
“Our team showed a lot of grit and toughness. There were a lot of little victories and great takeaways from today’s game,” said Giacometti. “We matured as a group and we are looking forward to getting back out on the diamond.”
Despite the fact that the Valiants out-batted the Colonels with 32 hits in their third game alone compared to Wilkes’ 34 hits for the whole series, Capozzi proved to be a force at the plate.
For the weekend, Capozzi led the offense with a .555 batting average, going 5-for-9 with two sac-flys. After repeatedly being at the top of the leaderborad, Capozzi’s presence at the plate is indisputable for the Colonels season thus far.
“We’ve played a lot of good baseball this year and some bad baseball this year,” said Capozzi, honestly. “The best thing about it is that there’s another day and another series.”
Earlier in the week, the Colonels tacked on two non-conference victories to their record, a 13-5 win over Marywood and a 17-8 win over Cabrini.
Junior DH Brandon Reno proved to be the man in both games, going 4-for-4 in in the contest against Marywood and 2-for-4 with a sac-fly and a hit-by-pitch against Cabrini, recording seven RBIs combined.
Patrizio’s offensive presence was notable as well, going 5-for-9 in the leadoff spot in the contests.
On the mound, sophomore Tony Molitoris snagged his first win of the season against Marywood and sophomore Nolan Ott did the same against Cabrini.
Although these double-digit victories should have been momentum builders heading into the series against Manhattanville, Wilkes struggled in the latter two games to close out the week.
“We control our own destiny from here on out,” said Capozzi, echoing Reinert’s sentiments from the 33-8 defeat post-game huddle. “We just have to be ready to play our game by doing the little things right.”
The Colonels will be back on the diamond against Immaculata on Tuesday before facing King’s away on Friday and in a home doubleheader on Saturday.