Wildcats Overcome Blown Lead, Outlast Norfolk State 13-10 in 10 Innings
Feb. 23, 2014
NORFOLK, Va. - The second through fifth hitters in the batting order combined to go 9-for-15 with seven runs scored and 10 runs batted in to lead Villanova (2-4) to a 13-10 victory in 10 innings over host Norfolk State (1-5) in the final game of the Spartan Baseball Classic at Marty L. Miller Field on Sunday afternoon.
A four-run bottom of the ninth inning by Norfolk State tied the game and forced extra innings but the Wildcats had the optimal part of the lineup due up in the 10th inning and quickly put three runs back on the board. Villanova led 5-0 after two innings and maintained its lead until the bottom of the ninth, although the Spartans got as close as one run (6-5) during the middle innings. From there the Wildcats had leads of 9-5 and 10-6 before Norfolk State rallied in the ninth.
Sophomore third baseman Kevin Jewitt (West Chester, Pa.), senior center fielder Connor Jones (Chandler, Ariz.) and sophomore first baseman Max Beermann (Tampa, Fla.) - hitting in the two through four spots in the lineup - each extended their hitting streaks to six straight games to begin the year. Jewitt went 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBI, while Jones was 1-for-4, walked twice and drove in two runs.
Beermann finished 3-for-3 with two doubles and a triple while scoring three runs and driving in two. Freshman second baseman Todd Czinege (Overland Park, Kan.) batted fifth and drove in a game-high four runs while going 2-for-4 with a run scored. All four hitters in the middle of the Wildcats order are batting .375 or higher through the season's first six games.
After breaking out for 15 hits in a 9-3 win over Quinnipiac on Saturday afternoon the Wildcats had 12 more hits and drew eight walks versus Norfolk State. Villanova won its final two games at the Spartans tournament after falling to Buffalo, 4-2, earlier on Saturday. In the two victories the Wildcats combined for 22 runs on 27 hits and 14 walks.
Villanova led 10-7 with two outs and a runner on second base in the bottom of the ninth inning but Norfolk State then drew a walk and hit three straight singles to tie the game. The last hit in the sequence was a two-run single up the middle by Justin Lee which tied the score at 10-10. Junior reliever Matt Lengel (Devon, Pa.) entered the game at that point and walked the first batter he faced before throwing a called third strike past Zach Markel to end the inning and leave the bases loaded. He went on to pitch a perfect 10th inning to preserve the win.
Considering the production from the top half of the lineup the Wildcats were in good position to start the 10th inning. Jewitt led off with a single to center field, then stole second and took third on a wild pitch. Beermann was intentionally walked with one out to set up runners at the corners with the possibility of a double play, but he stole second to thwart that potential strategy. Czinege singled through the left side to drive in Jewitt and make the score 11-10, while senior pinch hitter Kevin Rojko (San Jose, Calif.) singled through the right side to add the second run. The final run of the inning came when Czinege scored from third on a passed ball.
Lengel (1-0, 0.00 ERA) needed only nine pitches to retire the side in order in the bottom of the 10th inning. He was the fourth pitchers of the day for the Wildcats, who are now 19-3 all-time against the Spartans. All 22 meetings between the teams have taken place at Marty L. Miller Field.
Junior starting pitcher JB Kole (Basking Ridge, N.J.) gave up just three hits in 4 1/3 innings but was charged with five hits and five earned runs while walking five and striking out four. Four of the five runs on his account scored during a four-run fifth inning for the Spartans and Kole was replaced by senior Chris Haggarty (Valley Cottage, N.Y.) with two on and one out in the fifth.
Haggarty allowed a run on three hits in 1 2/3 innings, but the three hits were consecutive ones to begin the bottom of the seventh. He departed with a 10-6 lead and runners at the corners with nobody out. Junior lefty Jeff Courter (Maple Glen, Pa.) worked out of that jam in the seventh with an infield popup, groundout and fly out. He also pitched a scoreless eighth before Norfolk State rallied against him in the ninth.
Villanova will play its next five games in Florida, beginning with a three-game set at the Snowbird Baseball Classic in Port Charlotte from February 28-March 2. The first game in the stretch is on Friday against Nebraska-Omaha.