Feb. 27, 2010
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Kyle Helisek (Cranberry Township, Pa.) pitched four-hit baseball over seven innings to shut down the reigning Big Ten champions on Saturday afternoon and Villanova (5-0) scored all its runs in the last five innings in an 8-1 victory over Indiana (2-4) at Al Lang Stadium in the BIG EAST-Big Ten Challenge. The win continues the best start to a season for the Wildcats since 1995.
Helisek (1-0, 0.75 ERA) allowed a run in the bottom of the first inning but nothing after that. He avoided any serious jams by holding the Hoosiers to going 1-for-12 (.083) with runners on base and allowed more than one hitter to reach base in just two innings. Kevin MacLachlan (Matawan, N.J.) and Mike Francisco (Newtown Square, Pa.) combined to retire six of the seven batters they faced in the eighth and ninth innings to finish off the four-hitter.
Villanova tied the game with a run in the fifth inning and kept pouring it on from there. Two runs in the top of the sixth inning and three more in the seventh forged a comfortable 5-1 lead for the Wildcats, who then plated two more single runs in the eighth and ninth innings.
After entering the game as a pinch hitter in the top of the sixth inning, David Koczirka (Thornton, Pa.) wound up 2-for-2 with three RBI to help key the Villanova surge. His sacrifice fly in the sixth gave the Wildcats the lead for the first time, while he added a run-scoring single in the seventh inning and an RBI triple in the ninth.
Through the first four innings, Villanova had managed just a pair of singles against starting pitcher Walker Stadler (1-1, 4.63 ERA). In the top of the fifth, however, Matt Fleishman (Commack, N.Y.) and Kevin Wager (Chester, Va.) led off with back-to-back singles to put runners at the corners and nobody out. Aggressive base running by the Wildcats helped them tie the game when Wager stole second and Fleishman scored on a wild pitch on the same play.
Wager and Fleishman each had two hits and the top of the Villanova batting order continued to set the table for an offense that is averaging 10.2 runs per game in five outings. Matt Szczur (Erma, N.J.) went 3-for-5 with a run scored and an RBI, while Justin Bencsko (Pompton Plains, N.J.) walked twice, singled and scored three runs.
In the top of the sixth inning, Szczur singled and was caught stealing but Bencsko and Dain Hall (Barrington, Ill.) drew consecutive walks to manufacture a threat against a tiring Stadler. Following Koczirka's sacrifice fly an RBI double by Fleishman chased Stadler, who allowed three earned runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out three.
The Wildcats stole three bases and had four sacrifice bunts to test the Indiana defense, which committed four errors that led to four unearned runs in the final three innings. Villanova's opponents have made 14 errors in five games, while the Wildcats have committed just two.
On Sunday afternoon, Kyle McMyne (Old Forge, Pa.) tries to lead a Villanova sweep of this weekend's BIG EAST-Big Ten Challenge. The Wildcats meet Iowa at 1 p.m. at Jack Russell Stadium.
NOTES: Saturday's game was delayed for nearly four hours by rain and began at 1:40 p.m. ... First pitch had been scheduled for 10 a.m. ... The Wildcats won their first six games in 1995 and had not started better than 3-0 in any season since then.