Feb. 23, 2013
RALEIGH, N.C. - Sophomore starting pitcher Josh Harris (Streamwood, Ill.) pitched six strong innings in his first start of the season and the 3-4-5 hitters in the lineup combined to go 7-for-11 as Villanova (1-3) defeated La Salle (1-3) by a final score of 6-3 on Saturday evening at Doak Field on the North Carolina state campus. Five different hitters had multi-hit games for the Wildcats, who took the lead for good in the sixth inning and added some insurance late to earn their first win of the year.
Senior shortstop Tyler Sciacca (Staten Island, N.Y.) went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two runs batted in to raise his batting average for the young season to .529 (9-for-17). He singled to open the top of the sixth inning with the score tied 2-2 and Villanova eventually scored twice in the inning to take a 4-2 lead that it never relinquished. Senior left fielder Steve Schrenk (Brigantine, N.J.) and junior catcher John Cialone (Houston, Texas) each had two hits to round out the heart of the Wildcats lineup.
Those two runs in the top of the sixth inning were enough support for Harris (1-0, 3.00 ERA), who looked sharp in his second collegiate start and got better as the game went along. After giving up two runs in the bottom of the second inning Harris kept the Explorers off the scoreboard over the next four frames. Harris surrendered seven hits over his six-inning start while walking only one and striking out seven. He struck out the last four batters he faced and did not allow a hit in either of his final two innings of work.
Villanova pitching finished the night with 12 strikeouts while issuing just one walk. Junior reliever Chris Haggarty (Valley Stream, N.Y.) struck out three while giving up a run on two hits during the seventh and eighth innings, while sophomore JB Kole (Basking Ridge, N.J.) pitched a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts to earn the save.
Senior center fielder Paul Rambaud (Chicago, Ill.) and freshman second baseman Eric Lowe (Arlington Heights, Ill.) also had two hits apiece for the Wildcats, who recorded their first game of the season with double digits in the hits column.
After singles by Sciacca and Schrenk that each found a hole on the left side opened up the top half of the sixth inning, Cialone bunted for a single to load the bases with nobody out. Freshman first baseman Max Beermann (Tampa, Fla.) was hit by a pitch to force in a run and freshman third baseman Adam Goss (Bellaire, Texas) hit a sacrifice fly that scored Schrenk with the second run of the inning.
La Salle narrowed the Villanova lead to 4-3 when Ryan Welling homered to left field to open the home half of the bottom of the eighth inning. Haggarty finished out the inning with no further trouble however, and the Wildcats padded their lead with two more runs in the top of the ninth.
Lowe reached on an infield hit to start the ninth inning and Rambaud bunted for a one-out single to put runners at first and second. Sciacca doubled down the left field line and plated Lowe for a 5-3 lead with two outs, while two batters later Cialone walked with the bases loaded to force in the game's final run.
Earlier in the game Villanova scored single runs in the first and third innings. After there were two outs and nobody on in the top of the first Sciacca, Schrenk and Cialone came through with three consecutive singles to give the Wildcats an early 1-0 lead. Rambaud led off the third inning with a double to the gap in left-center and scored on an RBI groundout by Sciacca to tie the game at 2-2.
In the bottom of the second inning Harris did a good job of avoiding further trouble after the Explorers scored twice to take a 2-1 lead. Both runs had already crossed the plate when a wild pitch by Harris moved runners up to second and third with still only one out. Harris then got an infield popup and a fly ball to center field to end the inning.
Three of the first four La Salle hitters singled in the bottom of the fourth inning, including a leadoff single to left field by Kevin Conroy. He tried to stretch that hit into a double but Schrenk cut him down at second base with an accurate relay throw and Harris later struck out leadoff hitter Justin Korenblatt to end the inning.
Starting pitcher Shane Hollman went two innings for the Explorers and allowed two earned runs on five hits while walking none and striking out three. Reliever Andrew Clark (0-1) allowed two more runs on three hits over the next 3 2/3 innings and was charged with the loss.
Throughout the weekend the four teams competing at North Carolina State - the host Wolfpack along with Villanova, La Salle and Wagner - have had to endure cold weather and games that were rescheduled on the fly due to intermittent rain. As of the close of Saturday night's game, the Wildcats and Explorers are scheduled to play each other again on Sunday morning. A venue for that contest has not yet been finalized and an update on the game's status will be passed along when it becomes available.