Feb. 24, 2012
NORFOLK, Va. - Sophomore right-hander Pat Young (The Woodlands, Texas) had a career-high nine strikeouts over seven strong innings and classmate Matt Lengel (Devon, Pa.) pitched two scoreless innings for his first career save as Villanova (1-3) edged Norfolk State (1-4) by a final score of 2-1 at Marty L. Miller Field in a classic pitchers' duel on Friday afternoon. The win is the first of the season for the Wildcats, who scored the tying and eventual winning runs in the top of the eighth inning.
Pitching was the story of the day and Young (1-1, 5.40 ERA) allowed just a run on five hits in seven innings of work, while walking one and striking out nine. He registered 18 first-pitch strikes to the 26 batters he faced and was never once in serious trouble. He finished his day trailing 1-0 after seven innings but a two-run rally by Villanova in the top of the eighth inning gave Young a well-earned victory, while Lengel looked equally good in protecting the slimmest of leads over the final two frames.
Senior shortstop Marlon Calbi (Montclair, N.J.) was hit by a pitch leading off the top of the eighth inning and junior designated hitter Steve Schrenk (Brigantine, N.J.) walked ahead of a sacrifice bunt by senior left fielder Matt Fleishman (East Northport, N.Y.), giving Villanova runners at second and third with one out.
From there on it was classic Wildcats baseball, as sophomore right fielder Connor Jones (Chandler, Ariz.) scored the tying run with a sacrifice fly to center and junior second baseman Tyler Sciacca (Staten Island, N.Y.) dragged a bunt single up the third base line to score senior pinch runner Jordan Zech (Naples, Fla.) with the go-ahead run.
Spartans starting pitcher Jordan Egan (0-1, 1.26 ERA) departed after the sacrifice bunt by Fleishman and wound up being charged with two earned runs on six hits in 7 1/3 innings. He walked two and struck out five before turning the game over to Ryan VanAssche, who allowed the two inherited runners to score.
Calbi reached base three times in the game by going 2-for-3 with a walk and the hit by pitch while Sciacca and senior third baseman Kevin Wager (Holden, Mo.) had two hits apiece for Villanova, which combined eight hits with three walks on the afternoon. Calbi and Jones (1-for-3) have each reached base safely in all four games this season.
The only run of the game for Norfolk State scored in the bottom of the fourth inning when Justin Lee led off with a single up the middle and scored with two outs on a triple by Chris Warren that carried over the head of junior Paul Rambaud (Chicago, Ill.) in center field. Lee was 1-for-2 and drew the only two walks of the day for the Spartans, who managed seven hits.
After the triple by Warren opened the scoring Young struck out Ross Cardwell to end the inning and did not allow another runner to reach scoring position against him. He wound up setting down 10 of the last 12 batters he faced after allowing the one run to score.
Lengel quickly retired the first two batters in the bottom of the eighth inning before Lee worked out a full-count walk. Ryan Montgomery was up next and hit what looked like an inning-ending ground ball towards second base but the ball hit the leg of the field umpire and became a dead ball. That resulted in an infield hit for Montgomery which put runners at first and second with two outs. The two runners executed a successful double steal but Lengel induced a groundball by cleanup hitter Cameron Day to escape the eighth inning unscathed.
In the bottom of the ninth inning Cardwell doubled with one out but Lengel set down the final two batters of the game to finish off the combined seven-hitter.
Friday afternoon's game was the opener of a three-game weekend series and the Wildcats and Norfolk State are back at it on Saturday afternoon. Junior right-hander Stephen Ostapeck (Sacramento, Calif.) gets the start for Villanova in the 1 p.m. contest. VanAssche was the scheduled starter for the Spartans prior to throwing 1 2/3 innings of relief in Friday's game.
NOTES: Young and Lengel combined to throw first-pitch strikes to 22 of the 35 batters they faced and together threw exactly two-thirds of their pitches for strikes ... The win was the first for the Wildcats in a game they scored two runs or less since a 2-1 win at home over Niagara on March 19, 2010 ... Both teams played error-free baseball in Friday's game ... The sacrifice bunt by Fleishman in the top of the eighth inning was his first since his freshman season at Western New England in 2009 and it paved the way for the tying and winning runs to score ... Villanova advanced runners on 6-of-19 (32%) opportunities during the game while Norfolk State was 3-of-15 (20%) in the same situations.