Feb. 26, 2012
NORFOLK, Va. - Senior third baseman Kevin Wager (Holden, Mo.) tied a school record with six hits, head coach Joe Godri moved into second place in school history in victories and Villanova (3-3) finished off a three-game sweep of Norfolk State (1-6) with a 17-5 win at Marty L. Miller Field on Sunday afternoon. The offense erupted for the Wildcats during a 12-run second inning which sealed the outcome early on.
Wager was the clear leader of a 20-hit attack for Villanova and finished the day 6-for-7 with four runs scored and five runs batted in. He had two singles and four RBI in the second inning alone and finished the day with four singles and two doubles. Senior shortstop Marlon Calbi (Montclair, N.J.) and junior second baseman Tyler Sciacca (Staten Island, N.Y.) each had three hits and three RBI in the rout.
The game was a far cry from the first two games of the series, in which the two teams combined to score a grand total of four runs. Those games were won by the Wildcats, 2-1 and 1-0, respectively. Sciacca had the game-winning hit in each contest and picked up where he left off with a two-run double in the first inning that plated the game's first two runs.
Villanova scored in each of the first five innings of the game and tallied all 17 of its runs in that span, with a run-scoring single by Wager in the top of the fifth inning making the score 17-5 and closing the scoring for the day. Nine different players had at least one hit and eight players scored a run for the Wildcats, who scored more runs in the second inning (12) than in their first five games of the season combined (10).
Senior left fielder Matt Fleishman (East Northport, N.Y.) went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBI while freshman first baseman Brandon Carr (Danville, Calif.) also had two hits and two runs scored. Senior catcher Adam Nelson (St. Joseph, Mo.) had one hit but also walked twice and scored three runs.
In the second inning the floodgates opened wide and Villanova sent 16 men to the plate before finally being retired. The first three batters of the inning reached base and the Wildcats loaded the bases with nobody out to set the stage for what was to come. Calbi moved everyone up a base with a run-scoring single, Wager lined a ball up the middle to bring in two more runs and Fleishman singled home a fourth run to make the score 6-0.
One out later Sciacca and Geenen had consecutive hits that brought in three runs and with two outs Calbi doubled home two runs, Wager singled in two more and Fleishman doubled in the final tally of the big outburst.
Sophomore starting pitcher Max Almonte (Long Beach, N.Y.) allowed five earned runs on 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings before five relievers pitched scoreless ball and allowed just four hits while striking out seven over the final 5 1/3 innings. Almonte faced the minimum three batters in the bottom of the first inning when he erased a leadoff runner by inducing a double play to the second batter he raced. He then had a layoff of more than 30 minutes during the big second inning for Villanova and struggled to get into a rhythm after that.
Justin Lee singled home two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning for the Spartans and Almonte was relieved by senior Jerry Battipaglia (Katonah, N.Y.), who struck out Ryan Montgomery to end the inning. Battipaglia (1-0, 5.40 ERA) retired all four batters he faced and was followed by the quartet of senior Kyle Helisek (Cranberry Township, Pa.) and freshmen Tyler Radtke (Buffalo Grove, Ill.), JB Kole (Ridge, N.J.) and Josh Harris (Streamwood, Ill.), who all pitched a scoreless inning.
Villanova tagged Norfolk State starter Jeff Di Fulgo (0-2, 17.05 ERA) for nine runs (seven earned) on seven hits in 1 1/3 innings and added five unearned runs against reliever Horace Smith before the second inning was over.
Four different hitters had two hits for the Spartans, who scored three runs in the bottom of the second inning and two in the fourth before being shut down the rest of the way. Norfolk State finished with a season-high 14 hits, of which 10 came in the first 3 2/3 innings.
With their record now at 3-3 on the season the Wildcats can look ahead to their Spring Break trip to Florida, during which the team will play six games in the Snowbird Baseball Classic in Port Charlotte. First up is an 11 a.m. matinee versus Chicago State on Friday.
NOTES: Godri is in his 11th season as Villanova head coach and his 263rd career victory moves him past Wildcat legend Art Mahan, who won 262 games from 1950-72 ... Godri's teams at Villanova have averaged more than 26 wins per season ... Wager came to the plate with two outs in the ninth inning and a 6-for-6 day going before popping up to short to end the inning and finish the day 6-for-7 ... The only other Villanova hitter with six hits in a game was Robert Maurer, who accomplished the feat back in 1951 ... Only 21 hitters in NCAA Division I history have had seven or more hits in a game ... Sophomore right fielder Connor Jones (Chandler, Ariz.) had a run-scoring single in the top of the fourth inning to extend his hitting streak to seven games, including his final game of 2011 and the first six games this season ... He is the only Wildcat to have reached base safely in every game thus far ... This weekend marked the seventh time in the last nine years that Villanova has played an early three-game series versus Norfolk State ... The Wildcats are 18-3 in these games, have won all seven series and came away with a sweep in 2004, 2005, 2010 and 2012.