Feb. 15, 2014
CHARLESTON, S.C. - Junior starting pitcher Max Almonte (Long Beach, N.Y.) allowed just three hits and an earned run over seven strong innings but Villanova (0-2) was defeated, 2-1, by Charleston Southern (2-0) in the second game of a doubleheader at CSU Ballpark on Saturday afternoon. Earlier in the day the Buccaneers won the first game, 2-0, on the opening day of regular season action for both teams.
Almonte retired 12 of the final 16 batters he faced while pitching a career-high seven innings. He did not allow a hit after a single by the leadoff hitter in the bottom of the fourth inning and also issued just one walk to the 27 batters that he faced. Nate Blanchard led off the home half of the third inning with a single and scored with two outs to account for the only run charged to Almonte's account.
In the bottom of the eighth inning Charleston Southern cleanup hitter Nick Berry singled through the right side against freshman reliever Hunter Schryver (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) to drive in leadoff man Bobby Ison with the go-ahead and eventual winning run.
Sophomore shortstop Eric Lowe (Arlington Heights, Ill.) and sophomore designated hitter Luke Emling (Nottingham, Pa.) had two hits apiece for the Wildcats, who outhit the Buccaners by a 10-5 margin but were limited to just one run on an RBI single by senior center fielder Connor Jones (Chandler, Ariz.) in the top of the third inning.
Villanova turned two more double plays in the field after having three in the opening game. Almonte induced 6-4-3 double plays in both the third and fourth innings, with the first of those ending the inning after Charleston Southern had tied the game at 1-1 on a hard chopper through the infield.
Freshman right fielder Donovan May (Newark, Del.) led off the top of the third inning with a double to left field but then slipped while leading off second base during the next at-bat and was picked off by Bucs catcher Andrew Widell. With two outs and nobody on Lowe rescued the inning by reaching safely on a bunt straight in front of the plate. Jewitt reached on an infield single to short and Lowe scored from second when Jones lined a 1-1 pitch back up the middle and into center field for the first run of the game.
In the bottom half of the inning Blanchard singled through the left side, moved into scoring position on Ison's sacrifice bunt and advanced to third on a wild pitch. That put him in position to score when a high-hopping ball bounced away from Lowe.
Schryver (0-1, 9.00 ERA) was nearly able to escape trouble after allowing the single to Ison leading off the bottom of the eighth. Alex Tomasovich flied out to right-center and Ison stole second with one out before taking third on a sacrifice by Chase Shelton. Berry drove in Ison with his second hit of the game but Schryver got Robbie Streeett to fly out to end the threat.
Down to their last three outs and trailing for the first time in the game the Wildcats went down swining. Freshman second baseman Todd Czinege (Overland Park, Kan.) singled with one out in the ninth inning and Emling followed with a single through the left side before closer Austin Weekley recorded the final two outs to earn the save.
Tyler Weekley (1-0, 0.00 ERA) went 4 1/3 innings in relief of starting pitcher Levi Mouldin and gave up just three hits while striking out four. Mauldin yielded Villanova seven hits and one run while walking three over seven innings.
The teams finish this weekend's three-game series on Sunday at 1 p.m.