Feb. 28, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa.--The first big weekend of the 2013 season has arrived for Villanova (1-3), which will play a three-game series against No. 6 Florida State (7-0) this weekend at Dick Howser Stadium. The first two games of the series on Friday and Saturday afternoon will air live on ESPN3, while the series finale on Sunday will be broadcast online by Seminoles.com All-Access.
"We are going in to play one of the traditional powers in college baseball," Wildcats head coach Joe Godri said. "When you think about the great programs in college baseball Florida State is right up there with the best of them. Our guys our looking forward to the challenge and I am excited for them to get into a great atmosphere. Florida State is 7-0 and ranked in the top 10 in the country and from a mental standpoint it will be important for us to make them earn everything they get offensively."
Junior right-handed pitcher Pat Young (The Woodlands, Texas) starts the series opener for Villanova on Friday afternoon at 4 p.m., while senior righty Stephen Ostapeck (Sacramento, Calif.) starts the 2 p.m. game on Saturday afternoon and sophomore left-hander Josh Harris (Streamwood, Ill.) draws the Sunday start at 1 p.m.
Young has started two games already this season and has allowed just one walk while pitching to a 3.18 ERA in 11 1/3 innings. Harris was strong in his first outing of the season, allowing two earned runs while striking out seven in six innings to earn a win over La Salle. Ostapeck will be making his first appearance of the season after having his first two scheduled starts cancelled due to weather during the past two weekends.
"Essentially we have gotten three quality starts in four games from our pitchers and that is how we need to operate in order to be successful," Godri said. "We ask of our starting pitchers that they give us their best 80-100 pitches this early in the season and that they keep us in the game and allow us to play good defense behind them."
Through the first four games of the season it has been clear that Villanova has a formidable top of the batting order with the quartet of senior center fielder Paul Rambaud (Chicago, Ill.), junior right fielder Connor Jones (Chandler, Ariz.), senior shortstop Tyler Sciacca (Staten Island, N.Y.) and senior left fielder Steve Schrenk (Brigantine, N.J.). These four hitters combined are batting .367 (22-for-60) while scoring 15 of the Wildcats 19 runs.
Villanova is no stranger to playing against some of the elite programs in college baseball. During the 12 years that Godri has been head coach the Wildcats have taken on the likes of Tulane, Georgia Tech, Florida, Texas, Alabama, Michigan, Louisiana State and Arkansas. Godri knows that his Wildcats will have to take the right mental approach into this weekend's series.
"We learned in the game against North Carolina State that if you give up free bases you are going to see a score like 14-3," Godri said. "We also had the opportunity to watch North Carolina State play against La Salle and Wagner. La Salle pitched well and took care of the ball and the score was 5-0. For us going into Florida State we know that whatever they are going to get offensively we have to make them earn. If they earn their runs you can live with that."
Despite enduring consecutive weekends to begin the season in which it felt like there were more weather cancellations than games played, the Wildcats will enter play against the Seminoles coming off a 6-3 win over La Salle in their most recent game. Villanova closed out the second of two trips to North Carolina with a steady all-around performance in the win over the Explorers.
"Although we didn't get the results we wanted in terms of victories I do think that the experience of playing the teams that we did in the situations we did will make us a better team in the long run. We already are seeing the results of that. In the win over La Salle we tightened up a lot of things that we needed to do in order to get the first win.
With a roster that is filled with young players one of the most important things Godri and the rest of the coaching staff need to do is evaluate the Wildcats and get a feel for where the underclassmen are at.
"What we mostly need is to get into the routine of playing games," Godri said. "We were very close to getting into that routine with three games last weekend at North Carolina State. Despite some weather down there last weekend I am glad that we were able to play three straight days. Going into Florida State this weekend we know that we will have an opportunity to play three games over three straight days with no complications. That is exactly what the team needs at this point and we are looking forward to getting back on the field."
Following the three games against the Seminoles, the Wildcats take a one-day break and then play games against Valparaiso and Northeastern in Port Charlotte. Those games are scheduled for Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. and Wednesday at 11 a.m., respectively.
"Valparaiso is a team we haven't seen before but there is some familiarity both ways with the players on each roster because of common ground in recruiting in the Chicago area," Godri said. "They won their league and went to an NCAA regional last season. Northeastern always has quality arms and one or two guys in their lineup that have the look of a professional kind of hitters."
VILLANOVA AT NO. 6 FLORIDA STATE
Friday, March 1
4:00 PM, ESPN 3
Villanova (Pat Young, 0-0) vs. Florida State (Brandon Leibrandt, 2-0)
Saturday, March 2
2:00 PM, ESPN3
Villanova (Stephen Ostapeck, 0-0) vs. Florida State (Scott Sitz, 1-0)
Sunday, March 3
1:00 PM, Seminoles.com All-Access
Villanova (Josh Harris, 1-0) vs. Florida State (Peter Miller, 1-0)
Here are some additional comments from Godri on the Wildcats season up to this point.
On the changes to the schedule during first two weeks of the season: The word I have been using to describe everything that went on with the schedule the first two weeks is chaos. All of the guys, from the veterans down to the younger guys, showed their mental toughness and did a terrific job handling all of the chaos. They made it about baseball and they never made it about the hassle of all the changes.
On the Villanova bullpen: It was night and day for our relievers from the first weekend to the second weekend. The guys that came out of the bullpen did a terrific job for the most part last weekend and they threw the ball very well. Matt Meurer and Matt Longfield were almost the exact opposite of when they struggled against Monmouth, while JB Kole locked down the La Salle game in a closer's role. I also thought Max Beermann looked very good in scoreless relief outing against North Carolina State.
On JB Kole and whether he can handle the closer role: When JB came in against La Salle and threw his first pitch in the ninth inning, the game was over. He just had that mentality of going in and attacking the strike zone hard with strikes. What I like about JB is that he has two dependable pitches he can throw consistently for strikes.