Feb. 25, 2012
NORFOLK, Va. - In his second career start junior right-hander Stephen Ostapeck (Sacramento, Calif.) pitched a four-hit shutout and lifted Villanova (2-3) to a 1-0 win over Norfolk State (1-5) at Marty L. Miller Field on Saturday afternoon. It was the second consecutive pitchers' duel in this weekend's three-game series and the Wildcats scored the only run of the game on a two-out single by junior second baseman Tyler Sciacca (Staten Island, N.Y.) in the top of the eighth inning.
Ostapeck (1-0, 5.59 ERA) yielded just four singles in the game and retired 27 of the 32 batters he faced in the first complete game shutout by a Villanova pitcher in more than three years. He retired 18 of the first 20 batters at the start of the game and allowed only three runners total to reach scoring position.
Along the way to the shutout Ostapeck threw 20 first-pitch strakes, walked only one while striking out three and registered 12 outs on the ground. He is the first Wildcats pitcher to win a 1-0 decision since Mike Loree pitched a four-hit shutout against Louisville on March 24, 2007.
For all but the final six outs of the contest Ostapeck worked in a scoreless game with no margin for error. That changed in the top of the eighth inning when Sciacca came up with runners at first and second with two outs and singled to left field to score senior left fielder Matt Fleishman (East Northport, N.Y.) and give Villanova as much of a lead as Ostapeck needed to finish out the victory.
The game-winning single by Sciacca salvaged what could have been a missed opportunity in the top of the eighth inning. Freshman third baseman B.J. Bochicchio (Moosic, Pa.) drew a one-out walk and Fleishman singled to give the Wildcats runners at the corners with one out. Sophomore right fielder Connor Jones (Chandler, Ariz.) was up next and grounded into a fielder's choice in which Bochicchio was cut down at the plate for the second out. Sciacca followed two pitches later with his second hit of the game on a 1-and-0 pitch to bring in Fleishman from second.
All five hits that Villanova had in the game came from the heart of the batting order as Fleishman, Jones and Sciacca combined to go 5-for-11 while the rest of the lineup was 0-for-21 with 12 strikeouts. Bochicchio was the only other Wildcat to reach base more than once as he drew two walks in the contest.
Neither team had an extra-base hit in the game, which took little more than two hours to complete with both Ostapeck and Spartans starting pitcher Justin Bhatti (1-1, 0.60 ERA) cruising through the opposing lineups facing them. Ostapeck stymied the Norfolk State hitters into going 0-for-8 with runners on base, including 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
Bhatti struck out 11 over eight innings while allowing five hits, four walks and the one run. Reliever Chris Horne pitched the ninth and struck out the side around a one-out walk to sophomore catcher John Cialone (Houston, Texas).
The series finale is on tap for Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. when sophomore Max Almonte (Long Beach, N.Y.) gets the ball as Villanova goes for the sweep.
NOTES: The last shutout recorded by the Wildcats pitching staff came in a 4-0 win at Saint Joseph's on April 28, 2010 ... Villanova did not register any shutouts last season ... The last time a single pitcher threw a complete game shutout was in the quarterfinals BIG EAST Championship on May 22, 2008 when Bill Hoffman pitched the Wildcats to a 10-0 win over Seton Hall ... Ostapeck ranked fourth on the pitching staff with 20 appearances last season, with all but one of those outings coming out of the bullpen ... Jones is batting .316 (6-for-19) this season and has hit safely in all five games to Villanova has played ... He is the only hitter on the team to have reached base safely in every game this season ... The 14 strikeouts by Wildcats batters in Saturday's game was the most since Villanova also struck out 14 times at USF on April 24, 2010.