PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - Four different batters had multi-hit games but rallies in the eighth and ninth innings came up short as Villanova (3-4) fell to Dartmouth (1-3) by a final score of 12-7 at North Charlotte Regional Park on Saturday afternoon. The game was the first of seven that the Wildcats will play on their swing through Florida over the next nine days.
Sophomore first baseman Ryan Toohers (Florham Park, N.J.) went 3-for-5 with three runs batted in and senior center fielder David Gulati (Collegeville, Pa.) had two hits and two runs scored to lead a 13-hit day for the Villanova offense. Sophomore third baseman John Heilenbach (Western Springs, Ill.) and sophomore second baseman Timothy Lilly (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) also had two hits apiece.
After falling behind by a 12-3 margin after six innings, the Wildcats made things interesting with two runs and the potential for more in each of their final two turns at the plate. Heilenbach lined an RBI triple down the left field line with one out in the eighth inning and Lilly followed with a run-scoring double that was similarly placed just inside the third base bag and down the line. Those two runs made the score 12-5 before runners were ultimately stranded at the corners to end the inning.
Gulati doubled with one out in the ninth inning, freshman pinch hitter Chris Rotondo (Redding, Conn.) singled on a ball up the middle that couldn’t be gloved by the Big Green shortstop and Toohers followed with an RBI single to make the score 12-6. Heilenbach walked to load the bases with still just one out in the frame, and with two down junior designated hitter JP Radvany (Lawrenceville, N.J.) walked to force in a run and pull Villanova to within 12-7 before Dartmouth finally secured the last out.
This is the fifth time in seven games to start the season that the Wildcats have had at least nine hits. Villanova led 3-1 in the top of the third inning after an RBI single on a chopper in front of the plate by sophomore left fielder Tyler Bruno (Breinigsville, Pa.) and a two-run single by Toohers. Despite having runners on base in all but two innings in the game, those three runs were all that the Wildcats could manage until their two late rally attempts in the eighth and ninth.
A lone run in the bottom of the third inning trimmed the Villanova lead to 3-2 and Dartmouth took the lead for good with two runs in the home half of the fourth inning. The score was 5-3 after five before the Big Green pulled away with four runs in the sixth inning and three more in the bottom of the seventh.
Junior starting pitcher Jonathan Rosero (Middle Village, N.Y.) was charged with three earned runs over four innings, during which he gave up four hits while walking one and striking out two. The final Wildcats pitcher of the game was junior reliever Jake Esp (Sugar Grove, Ill.), who retired the side in order in the bottom of the eighth.
Next up for Villanova is a 3 p.m. game against Northeastern on Sunday afternoon. That game will also be played on Field #10 at North Charlotte Regional Park.
NOTES: The infield trio of Toohers, Lilly and Heilenbach have started all seven games this season at first base, second base and third base, respectively … Collectively, the three sophomores are batting .425 and they have combined for 31 hits, 16 runs scored and 20 runs batted in to go along with eight doubles and a triple … The trio has also combined for a .551 on-base percentage and a .562 slugging percentage … Those three, along with Gulati, have reached base safely in all seven games of the season.