LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Villanova (3-3) played its cleanest game of the weekend and pushed home the game’s first run before ultimately falling to USC (6-1) by a final score of 5-2 at Dedeaux Field on Sunday afternoon. The offense continued to be patient in drawing six walks on the day and the Wildcats bullpen held the Trojans to one run over the game’s final three innings.
Sophomore first baseman Ryan Toohers (Florham Park, N.J.) was on base three times and played a part in both Villanova runs in the game. He finished the day with a single, two walks, a sacrifice fly and a run scored to raise his on-base percentage for the season to a robust .586 mark. Toohers scored the game’s first run in the top of the second inning after drawing a leadoff walk, one of four bases on balls for the Wildcats in the inning. The team has drawn 37 walks and been hit by a pitch nine times already this season.
USC tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the third inning and took the lead later in the same inning when Dillon Paulson hit a three-run home run to right field which made the score 4-1. Villanova put the tying runs on base in the seventh inning when senior center fielder David Gulati (Collegeville, Pa.) doubled, freshman pinch hitter Josh Kim (Holland, Pa.) walked and sophomore left fielder Tyler Bruno (Breinigsville, Pa.) was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Following a Trojans pitching change, Toohers went after the first pitch he saw from reliever Brad Wegman and just missed getting the barrel on the ball. He hit a sacrifice fly to right which made the score 4-2, but that was as close as the Wildcats rally attempt would come. USC got the run back in the home half of the seventh and held on to the lead for the final two innings.
Senior starting pitcher Ryan Doty (Rye, N.Y.) was charged with four earned runs on seven hits over the first five innings. He walked three and struck out three in his second start of the season. Sophomore reliever Ryan Pfutzenreuter (Deerfield, Ill.) allowed a run over two solid innings and junior Jason Applegate (Columbus, N.J.) escaped trouble in a scoreless bottom of the eighth after there were runners at the corners with one out.
He got out of the jam by inducing a 6-6-3 double play to end the inning, one of three twin-killings for the Villanova defense in the game. Toohers twice made nice snares of hard choppers to first base to start 3-3-6 double plays. The defense has turned seven double plays in the season’s first six games.
Sunday afternoon’s series finale wrapped up the Wildcats first-ever trip to the state of California. It is only the seventh time in the program’s 153-year history that Villanova traveled west of the Mississippi River, and the weekend saw the Wildcats hold their own against a storied Pac-12 program that has appeared in the College World Series on 21 occasions.
Villanova will now turn its attention to its annual Spring Break trip to Florida, where the team will play seven games over nine days from March 3-11. The first three games of the trip are in the Snowbird Baseball Classic in Port Charlotte, with the Wildcats kicking off their southern swing against Dartmouth on Saturday, March 3 at 12 p.m.