March 1, 2003
WILMINGTON, N.C. - On Saturday, March 1, at Brooks Field in Wilmington, N.C., the Villanova baseball team saw a two-run lead disappear as Dartmouth rallied with four runs in the eighth inning to defeat the Wildcats, 6-5. With the loss, the `Cats dropped to 1-4 on the season. The Big Green improved to 1-0 on the year with the victory.
In the top of the second inning, Dartmouth used some clutch two-out hitting to open up the game's scoring. Catcher Brian Zurhellen got things started with a two-out double, and was knocked in one batter later on a single to right by Cooper Chapin to give the Big Green a 1-0 lead.
Two innings later, Dartmouth added to its lead as designated hitter Jeff Speights homered off of Villanova starter Tom Kandybowicz to extend the Big Green lead to 2-0.
The Wildcats rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the fourth inning. Adrian Schau and Brian Newbold opened the inning with singles, and were advanced to second and third on a sacrifice by first baseman Ryan Crammer. Two batters later, second baseman Mark Cardillo lined a first pitch single through the right side to plate both runners and tie the game at 2-2.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Villanova posted two more runs to take its first lead of the contest at 4-2. Schau led off the inning with a ground ball to short which Dartmouth shortstop Ed Lucas air-mailed over the first baseman's head allowing Schau to advance to second. Newbold followed with a single up the middle to advance Schau to third with no outs. Crammer gave the `Cats their first advantage, drilling a double into the left-center field gap to score Schau and Newbold and give Villanova the 4-2 lead.
Junior Dan Farino relieved Kandybowicz to begin the eighth inning, but ran into early trouble. Farino gave up two singles and hit a batter to load the bases with one out. Senior James Russell came on in place of Farino, but had no better luck. Right fielder Josh Cushman brought the Big Green within one run, 4-3, with a bloop single to shallow right field. Dartmouth left fielder Scott Shirrell tied the contest up at 4-4 one batter later, lofting a sacrifice fly to left field. Russell then walked three consecutive batters, which plated two more runs, to give the Big Green a 6-4 advantage.
Villanova had a chance to come back in the bottom of the ninth inning, putting runners at the corners with two outs on singles by center fielder Chris Graziano and third baseman Poydenis. Big Green reliever Joshua Faiola shut the door on the comeback attempt, getting right fielder Mitch Mitchell to foul out to the catcher to end the game.
Faiola got the win on the mound for Dartmouth with three shutout innings of relief to go to 1-0. Farino took the loss for the Wildcats to drop to 0-1. Kandybowicz pitched seven strong innings but did not factor in the decision. He allowed two runs on nine hits in seven innings, striking out six and walking one. Junior Mike Ciccotelli came on to pitch one and a third scoreless innings of relief, striking out two, in his first appearance of the season.
At the plate for Villanova, Graziano went three-for-five with two stolen bases for the `Cats. In addition, Newbold was two-for-four with two runs scored, Crammer was one-for-three with a double and two RBI, and Cardillo was one-for-three with two RBI.
For Dartmouth in the win, Speights was two-for-four with a home run and an RBI, while center fielder Jason DeCosta tallied three hits.
The Wildcats will get back into action Saturday afternoon, playing NC State at 4:00 p.m.