March 5, 2014
CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Freshman second baseman Todd Czinege (Overland Park, Kan.) opened the scoring with his first collegiate home run in the top of the second inning and Villanova (2-9) jumped out to an early lead before No. 16 Miami (7-5) rallied in the middle innings for a 7-2 victory at Alex Rodriguez Park on Wednesday evening. Czinege finished with two hits and freshman third baseman Brian Trabulsi (Malverne, N.Y.) also drove in a run.
Czinege hit the first pitch he saw with one out in the second inning far over the left-center field fence to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead and Trabulsi beat out a relay throw to first to avoid a double play and allow a run to score on a fielder's choice in the top of the fifth inning. It was just after Villanova extended its lead to 2-0 that the Hurricanes rallied for three runs in the bottom of the inning and Miami later pulled away with three runs in the home half of the seventh.
The difference in the game was a pair of balls hit into the gaps - one by Hurricanes left fielder Tyler Palmer to right-center which fell in for a two-run triple and one by Trabulsi to deep left-center which was caught for an out.
In the bottom of the fifth inning Garrett Kennedy was hit by a pitch with one out and Brandon Lopez followed with a single which gave Miami runners at first and second with one away. Junior starting pitcher Jeff Courter (Maple Glen, Pa.) retired leadoff hitter Dale Carey on an infield fly but Palmer then lined a ball to right-center field which proved to be perfectly placed. Senior center fielder Connor Jones (Chandler, Ariz.) made a long run to even get close to having a play on the ball but it just eluded his grasp and both runners scored while Palmer raced around to third.
Brad Fieger followed with a go-ahead single off of senior reliever Chris Haggarty (Valley Cottage, N.Y.) to give the Hurricanes the only lead they needed. Fieger had three hits and drove in two runs on the night and the first three hitters in the Miami batting order combined for seven of the team's 12 hits.
In the top of the seventh inning the Wildcats were still within 3-2 when sophomore first baseman Max Beermann (Tampa, Fla.) was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Sophomore shortstop Eric Lowe (Arlington Heights, Ill.) sacrificed him to second and Beermann advanced to third on a groundout by freshman right fielder Donovan May (Newark, Del.). May was called out at first on a close play after nearly beating out a slow roller to second but sophomore left fielder Adam Goss (Bellaire, Texas) walked to extend the inning and bring Trabulsi to the plate.
Hurricanes reliever Adam Sargent entered the game to face Trabulsi, who hit a 1-0 pitch to left-center field on a similar line that Czinege's home run ball traveled. It appeared that Trabulsi had hit the ball far enough over the heads of the Miami defense but Palmer raced the ball down and made an over-the-shoulder catch just short of the warning track.
In the bottom of the seventh inning Carey led off with a single and Palmer sacrificed him to second. Fieger and Willie Abreu each got hits to drive in runs and pinch runner Ricky Eusebio scored from third with two outs on a passed ball. Carey homered to left in the bottom of the eighth inning for the game's final run.
Goss entered the game as a pinch hitter in the top of the fifth inning and reached base in both of his plate appearances with a single and a four-pitch walk. Senior catcher John Cialone (Houston, Texas) also had a hit and a walk for Villanova, which had been the victim of a perfect game on Tuesday night.
The first start of the season for Courter (0-1, 9.00 ERA) was a strong one, as he kept the Hurricanes off balance for the first 4 2/3 innings. He wound up being charged with six hits and three earned runs allowed while walking one and striking out one.
Senior reliever Matt Meurer (Katy, Texas) recorded the final two outs in the sixth inning while stranding two inherited runners. Meurer has not allowed a run in his last four outings and in a stretch of 13 appearances dating back to late last season has an ERA of 0.84 in his last 21 1/3 innings pitched.
Hurricanes starting pitcher Danny Garcia allowed two hits and two earned runs in four innings of work, while striking out eight and walking two. Cooper Hammond (2-0, 4.76 ERA) was the first of six Miami relievers on the night and earned the win.
Beermann singled to start the fifth inning against Garcia and moved up to second when Lowe laid down the first of his two sacrifice bunts on the night against Hammond, who relieved Garcia after the leadoff single. May pinch hit and was hit by a pitch and Goss singled to load the bases. Trabulsi hit a 2-0 pitch to first base and Goss was forced out at second, but Trabulsi beat the throw to first to keep the inning alive.
The game was the last of five in Florida for the Wildcats, who have a winning record of 40-39 in the state under head coach Joe Godri. Earlier on Wednesday afternoon the schedule for a modified version of the Villanova Baseball Classic was announced, with the tournament now to be played exclusively at Smithson Field on the Saint Joseph's campus. The Wildcats take on the Hawks on Friday afternoon at 2:45 p.m. and will also face Temple (Saturday, 2:45 p.m.) and Niagara (Sunday, 10:45 a.m.) during the weekend.
NOTES: May preserved what was still a 3-2 game in the bottom of the sixth inning when he threw out David Thompson at the plate trying to score from second on a single ... May also threw a runner out at third in last night's game ... Villanova has eight outfield assists this season after having just seven in 54 games last year.