Wildcats Hold Off Mount St. Mary's 7-5 for Second Straight Win
March 1, 2009
PALM BEACH, Fla. - Freshman starting pitcher Kyle Helisek (Cranberry Township, Pa.) pitched six innings for his first collegiate victory and senior closer Josh Eidell (Norristown, Pa.) earned his first save of the season on Sunday afternoon as Villanova (2-4) defeated Mount St. Mary's (0-2), 7-5, in the Palm Beach Challenge at the Santaluces Sports Complex.
The Wildcats scored their seven runs on only nine hits by playing good situational baseball. Villanova hitters were 5-for-14 with runners in scoring position and 5-for-11 with two outs, while the team advanced runners on 12-of-20 chances during the contest. Redshirt freshman Matt Szczur (Erma, N.J.), sophomore Dain Hall (Barrington, Ill.) and freshman Marlon Calbi (Montclair, N.J.) each had two hits.
Freshman Kevin Wager (Chester, Va.) hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth inning to put the Wildcats ahead for good after the Mount had tied the game with a pair of runs in the top half. Mount St. Mary's committed a pair of defensive miscues in the sixth and eighth innings that led to the go-ahead run and an insurance tally for Villanova. After senior Matt McFolling (Chicago, Ill.) walked to lead off the inning, he went all the way to third base on a failed pickoff attempt at first and junior Justin Bencsko (Pompton Plains, N.J.) pinch ran and scored one out later on Wager's sacrifice.
Bencsko scored the insurance run in the eighth when he came in from second with two outs after a muffed throw at first base allowed Calbi to reach safely on a potentially inning-ending ground ball to third.
A pair of runs crossed for the Mount in the top of the first inning after there had been two outs and none on but the Wildcats rallied back with a five-spot in the bottom of the third inning, including four two-out runs in that frame. Calbi doubled down the left-field line to start the inning and Szczur followed with a single through the left side, advancing to second on a throw home that kept Calbi at third. Senior Joe Rosati (Havertown, Pa.) executed a safety squeeze to drive in Calbi before the rally picked up steam two batters later. Senior Kyle Carver (Aldan, Pa.) singled home Szczur to tie the game, McFolling doubled home two runs and Hall capped the inning with a single.
Meanwhile, Helisek only allowed four batters to reach base between the second and fourth innings and Villanova turned a heads-up double play to end the top of the fourth. With runners at second and third and one out, Josh Winter flied out to right field for what looked like a sacrifice fly. Mike Matta was the runner at third and was called safe at the plate after running into Wildcat catcher Wes Borden (State College, Pa.). Before the next pitch though, Helisek stepped off and appealed to third and Matta was called out for not returning to the bag when the third baseman, Wager, took Helisek's throw and stepped on the base.
Helisek scattered 11 hits and the five runs through six innings, with a walk and three strikeouts. Sophomore Mike Francisco (Newtown Square, Pa.) worked around a hit batter in the seventh inning for his second scoreless inning of relief in as many days and Eidell allowed just two harmless singles for his eighth career save.
Ryan Stamp doubled home a run in the first inning and singled leading off the fifth to set up a two-run inning for Mount St. Mary's. Joe Kavanagh had two hits, including an RBI triple, and scored a run for the Mount and Matt Staso had three hits and an RBI. He did wind up as the third out of the fifth inning when he was picked off of second base by Helisek.
Righty starter Brett Moore started and pitched first five innings for Mount St. Mary's, allowing six hits and five earned runs with a walk and four strikeouts. Costa Kapothanasis pitched 1 2/3 innings and was the pitcher of record when he was charged with the unearned run for Bencsko scoring in the bottom of the sixth.
Villanova takes a day off on Monday and returns to action on Tuesday at 6 p.m. against St. Bonaventure at the Santaluces complex. The Wildcats will remain in Florida through games on Friday in their second appearance in the last three years at the Palm Beach Challenge.