Feb. 17, 2012
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Senior left fielder Matt Fleishman (East Northport, N.Y.) provided the team's highlight of the day with a seventh inning grand slam and Villanova (0-1) opened a three-game series at No. 4 Arkansas (1-0) on Friday afternoon, where the Wildcats were defeated 11-5 in the season opener for both teams. A crowd of 7,312 at Baum Stadium was on hand for the game.
Villanova managed eight hits and drew four walks as nine different hitters reached base at least once in the game. Fleishman went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and with two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the seventh inning drove an 0-and-2 pitch far over the left field fence. Senior shortstop Marlon Calbi (Montclair, N.J.) and sophomore first baseman Connor Jones (Chandler, Ariz.) also had two hits apiece.
A big first inning by the Razorbacks put the Wildcats in an early hole. Arkansas plated six runs in their first trip to the plate, including four unearned runs that scored with two outs. A two-run double by Sam Bates and a two-run triple off the bat of Jacob Morris were the big hits in the inning against senior starter Kyle Helisek (Cranberry Township, Pa.), who started to settle in after the first inning.
Helisek (0-1) erased a leadoff runner in the bottom of the second inning by inducing a double play groundball and then retired the side in order in the third inning. Morris homered leading off the bottom of the fourth inning and two more runs were eventually charged to Helisek's account before the inning came to a close.
In the top of the sixth inning Villanova got on the board for the first time when Fleishman led off with a double to right-center and then moved up on groundouts by Jones and senior third baseman Kevin Wager (Holden, Mo.), the latter of which scored Fleishman from third.
One inning later Fleishman was the sixth batter of the seventh inning and the first to put the ball in play. Razorbacks reliever Mark Reyes issued leadoff walks to junior pinch hitter Brandon Clark (Spring, Texas) and senior right fielder Jordan Zech (Naples, Fla.), struck out Calbi for the first out and then walked senior pinch hitter Andrew Geenen (Portola Valley, Calif.) to load the bases.
Reyes was replaced by Colby Suggs, who struck out junior second baseman Tyler Sciacca (Staten Island, N.Y.) and then quickly got Fleishman into an 0-2 hole. Fleishman fouled off the first two-strike offering from Suggs but then hit his next pitch out of the park.
The day was a good one overall for the Wildcats bullpen as three relievers combined to allow two earned runs on four hits over 4 2/3 innings. Sophomore Matt Lengel (Devon, Pa.) relieved Helisek and pitched 2 2/3 innings. In the bottom of the sixth he loaded the bases with nobody out on a hit batter, a single and a walk but limited the damage by retiring the next three batters to end the inning; the only two runs that scored against him came home on a fielder's choice and a sacrifice fly during the inning. Freshmen right-handers Tyler Radtke (Buffalo Grove, Ill.) and JB Kole (Basking Ridge, N.J.) each pitched a scoreless inning in their collegiate debuts.
Arkansas starter DJ Baxendale (1-0) pitched five scoreless innings and scattered four hits while walking one and striking out three before reaching his pitch count. His first time through the Villanova lineup he retired eight of the nine batters faced and the only hitter to reach base got on via a fielding error.
With two outs and a runner on in the third inning Calbi reached on an infield hit for the first Wildcats hit of the game and junior designated hitter Steve Schrenk (Brigantine, N.J.) walked to load the bases before Baxendale got out of the jam. In the top of the fourth inning Jones singled to right field and Wager followed with a double to left but senior catcher Adam Nelson (St. Joseph, Mo.) was robbed of a hit on a diving stop of a groundball between short and third by the third baseman.
Matt Reynolds went 3-for-3 for the Razorbacks while Morris and Tim Carver each had two hits.
The second game of the series is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Central time on Saturday afternoon and will feature Villanova sophomore Pat Young (The Woodlands, Texas) taking the hill against Arkansas righty Ryne Stanek.
NOTES: With today's loss the Wildcats are 5-6 in season openers under 11th year head coach Joe Godri ... Villanova opened the season with a Southeastern Conference (SEC) opponent on the schedule for the second time in the last four years ... The team began the 2009 campaign with a series at Louisiana State and has now matched up against four SEC squads in Godri's tenure ... Fleishman's home run was the ninth of his Wildcats career and the 16th he has hit in college ... Dating back to last season Calbi has hit safely in seven consecutive games ... He hit .409 (9-22) over the final six games of the 2011 season.