Feb. 21, 2010
NORFOLK, Va. - Sophomore southpaw Kyle Helisek (Cranberry Township, Pa.) struck out seven and allowed no earned runs in five innings and Villanova (2-0) broke open a close game with four runs in the eighth inning en route to a 7-3 victory over Norfolk State (0-2) on Saturday afternoon in the middle game of a three-game series at Marty L. Miller Field.
Strong starting pitching was the story for a second straight day as Helisek tied his career high for strikeouts and allowed just three hits and an unearned run in his five innings of work. He stayed out of trouble by retiring the leadoff batter in four of his five innings and then held the Spartans to 1-of-8 hitting with runners on base and 1-of-6 batting with two outs.
Just as they did in their victory on Friday afternoon, the Wildcats opened the scoring in the top of the third inning with a pair of runs against Norfolk State starter Chase Davenport (0-1, 3.86 ERA). The top of the lineup was due up for Villanova starting the inning and Matt Szczur (Erma, N.J.) and Justin Bencsko (Pompton Plains, N.J.) were both hit by pitches to quickly set the table. After Dain Hall (Barrington, Ill.) moved the runners over with a sacrifice bunt, Kevin Wager (Chester, Va.) pulled a single into left field to bring in both runners.
Szczur scored twice and Bencsko three times for the Wildcats as 21 of the team's 48 batters reached base safely. Bencsko finished the day 3-for-5 and added two RBI of his own, while Matt Fleishman (Commack, N.Y.) had three hits and drove in three runs.
The game was tied 2-2 after six innings but Villanova went back ahead with a single run in the top of the seventh inning before the four-run outburst in the eighth. Fleishman had a run-scoring single in the seventh to plate Bencsko and a two-run double in the eighth to drive in Wager and Bencsko.
Nine men came to the plate as the Wildcats batted around in the eighth against reliever Joel Himan. Adam Nelson (St. Joseph, Mo.) led off with a walk, Marlon Calbi (Montclair, N.J.) singled and Szczur bunted for a hit to load the bases with nobody out before Bencsko and Fleishman provided the big hits in the inning.
Helisek departed on a pitch count following the fifth inning with a 2-1 lead but the Spartans brought home a single run in the bottom of the sixth inning to tie the game against reliever Kevin Crimmel (Harrisburg, Pa.). John Lynch led off the home half of the sixth with a double, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Shane Hoggard's single to right field.
Crimmel (1-0, 6.75 ERA) wound up the winning pitcher as he benefited from the runs in the seventh and eighth innings. He wound up pitching 2 2/3 innings and allowing two earned runs on five hits with no walks and one strikeout. Julian Diaz (Trenton, N.J.) notched the last out of the eighth inning with a runner on base and Mike Francisco (Newtown Square, Pa.) closed out the game with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
Hoggard had two hits and drove in two runs for Norfolk State, while Chris Joyce went 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI.
Villanova goes for the three-game sweep on Sunday at 1 p.m. with sophomore right-hander Kyle McMyne (Old Forge, Pa.) on the hill.
NOTES: The Wildcats added to their 12 hits on Saturday with seven walks and two hit batters, while stealing four more bases to add to their total of six from Friday's game ... Through the first two games of the series, Villanova has drawn 15 walks and struck out 15 times, while its pitching has issued just six walks compared to 25 strikeouts ... Helisek also had seven strikeouts last season in a start against Lehigh ... Calbi was 2-for-4 with a run scored on Saturday to join Bencsko, Wager and Fleishman with multi-hit games ... The Wildcats two starting pitchers in the first two games have combined to throw 11 2/3 innings with no earned runs allowed and 19 strikeouts.