March 3, 2010
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - Tyler Sciacca (Staten Island, N.Y.) hit a three-run triple during a four-run first inning, two more runs came home in the top of the fourth inning and Villanova (7-1) ran out to a 6-0 lead en route to an impressive 8-5 victory over Kansas State (6-2) on Wednesday at Chain of Lakes Park. The victory is the first ever over a team from the Big 12 Conference for the Wildcats, who saw their lead cut to one run but never trailed or allowed their mascot namesakes to tie the contest.
Kevin Crimmel (Harrisburg, Pa.) mixed his fastball with a devastating breaking ball when ahead in the count to keep the Kansas State hitters off balance. Crimmel (2-0, 4.09 ERA) allowed five hits and two earned runs over five innings pitched in his first start of the season. He walked none and struck out three, two of which came on called third strikes on knee-buckling curveballs.
Villanova set the tone for the game early on with its four-run first inning, which nearly stalled before any of the runs had scored. Justin Bencsko (Pompton Plains, N.J.) singled up the middle with one out and was then safe at second on a fielder's choice grounder off the bat of David Koczirka (Thornton, Pa.). Koczirka was picked off first for the second out, but Matt Fleishman (Commack, N.Y.) and Chris Johnson (Shrewsbury, N.J.) drew consecutive walks to load the bases.
Dain Hall (Barrington, Ill.) beat out an infield hit on a ball up the middle that was knocked down behind second base and Sciacca followed by driving a ball up the gap in right-center field to clear the bases and give the Wildcats some immediate breathing room on the scoreboard.
The bases were loaded with two outs again in the top of the fourth inning when a groundball by Johnson was thrown errantly to first base. Matt Szczur (Erma, N.J.) scored from third on the play and Bencsko alertly raced home all the way from second to forge a 6-0 lead for Villanova.
Bencsko and Johnson each had two hits and two runs scored, while Sciacca added a single in the third inning to add to his three-run triple. First baseman Scott Buckwalter (Harrisburg, Pa.) also had two hits and scored a run in his first career start.
Following two relief appearances, Crimmel showed signs of fatigue in the fifth inning, when Kansas State scored four runs to pull to within 6-4. A throwing error in the inning led to two unearned runs, and the Wildcats had a runner at third with one out following a two-run triple that trimmed Villanova's lead to 6-3. Crimmel escaped the jam with a sacrifice fly for the second out followed by a fly ball to right-center field to end the inning.
The bullpen took over from there as four relievers combined to close out the game. Julian Diaz (Trenton, N.J.) allowed the final Kansas State run of the game in the sixth inning and Jerry Battipaglia (Katonah, N.Y.) retired four batters in a scoreless 1 1/3 inning appearance in the seventh and eighth.
With one on and nobody out in the eighth inning, Villanova turned to specific matchups. Back in the sixth inning, Kansas State pinch hit two straight left-handed batters at the bottom of the order to have them face the right-handed Diaz. In the eighth, Mike Francisco (Newtown Square, Pa.) entered to face those same two left-handed hitters and eventually worked around a hit and two walks to end the inning with a pair of strikeouts. Kyle McMyne (Old Forge, Pa.) recorded his first save of the season with a dominant 1-2-3 ninth inning.
Villanova added an insurance run in the eighth inning on a sacrifice fly by Koczirka and further insurance in the ninth when Johnson scored from second on the second infield error of the game by Kansas State.
Kayvon Bahramzadeh (0-1, 10.80 ERA) made his first start of the season and allowed six runs (four earned) on six hits in 4 1/3 innings to take the loss for Kansas State. He walked four and struck out three.
Adam Muenster had two hits for Kansas State, while he and Carter Jurica both drove in a pair of runs.
Villanova will face Western Michigan at 11 a.m. on Thursday.