March 6, 2012
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - What a difference a day makes. Coming off the team's only day off during a six-game road trip Villanova (6-5) scored five runs before even making an out in the top of the first inning and cruised to a 12-5 win over Miami (Ohio) (4-5) at North Charlotte Regional Park in the Snowbird Baseball Classic on Tuesday afternoon. The runs came in bunches for the Wildcats, who scored five times in both the first and seventh innings to notch their sixth win in the last eight games.
Offensive production came from everywhere in the lineup but the heart of the batting order set the tone by combining to go 8-for-14 with eight runs scored and four runs batted in. Senior left fielder Matt Fleishman (East Northport, N.Y.) had two hits and scored three runs, cleanup hitter Connor Jones (Chandler, Ariz.) counted three doubles in a four-hit day and junior second baseman Tyler Sciacca (Staten Island, N.Y.) had two hits, two runs scored and three RBI in the game.
With the wind blowing the ball all over the field it initially seemed that the teams would go blow for blow in a slugfest when the five-run Villanova first inning was countered by three runs from Miami in the bottom half of the inning. The first inning took more than 45 minutes to complete but the 5-3 lead forged by the Wildcats remained the score all the way through the end of the fourth inning. Villanova broke through again with two runs in the top of the fifth inning and its lead was never threatened the rest of the way.
Sophomore right-hander Matt Lengel (Devon, Pa) made his first start of the season and worked on a predetermined pitch count to earn his first collegiate win. Lengel (1-0, 4.66 ERA) bounced back strong after the three-run first inning and allowed no runs on two hits over the next three frames. He wound up allowing three earned runs on five hits in four innings of work, while walking four and striking out three.
In the top of the first inning the first six batters of the game strung together six consecutive hits and knocked out RedHawks starter Seth Varner (0-1, 27.00 ERA) before he could retire a batter. Senior shortstop Marlon Calbi (Montclair, N.J.) started the game with a double and senior first baseman Kevin Wager (Holden, Mo.) chopped a single over the head of the shortstop to drive in the game's first run. Two singles later the bases were loaded with nobody out and the rally really kicked into gear. Sciacca doubled off the left field fence to plate two runs, Jones scored on a wild pitch and senior designated hitter Andrew Geenen (Portola Valley, Calif.) singled to make the score 5-0.
Although the early barrage of hits stopped as quickly as it started following the first inning there was still plenty more to come for the Wildcats offensively. In the top of the fifth inning Fleishman walked with one out and Jones followed with the first of his three doubles. They were at second and third with two away when junior Steve Schrenk (Brigantine, N.J.) came into the game as a pinch hitter for Geenen and ripped a two-run single through the right side to extend the Villanova lead to 7-3. It was the 10th career pinch hit for Schrenk, who also has 11 career RBI in that role.
Fleishman started a rally again in the seventh inning when he singled to open what became another five-run outburst. Jones and Sciacca hit back-to-back run-scoring doubles and Sciacca scored the third run of the inning on a wild pitch. The most impressive hit of the game, however, came with two outs when senior center fielder Jordan Zech (Naples, Fla.) crushed a two-run home run far over the left field fence to make the score 12-4. One pitch earlier Zech may have hit the ball even further but his shot down the left field line carried foul with the strong wind blowing from left to right. The wind didn't matter one pitch later when Zech straightened the ball out and cleared the fence for his first home run in a Villanova uniform.
The win for Lengel was backed up by another steady day from the Wildcats bullpen. Left-handers Matt Meurer (Katy, Texas) and Josh Harris (Streamwood, Ill.) pitched the fifth through eighth innings and kept Miami at bay while Villanova extended its lead. Meurer struck out four over three innings of work from the fifth through the seventh and senior Julian Diaz (Trenton, N.J.) closed out the victory with a scoreless ninth.
Ryan Brenner and John Crummy had three hits apiece for the RedHawks, who finished the day with 14 hits of their own.
The final game of the Florida trip is tomorrow morning starting at 10:30 a.m. when the Wildcats play Xavier. That game will be on Field #3 at North Charlotte Regional Park and Villanova will be the home team. Senior left-hander Kyle Helisek (Cranberry Township, Pa.) pitches for the Wildcats.
NOTES: Villanova went 7-for-16 (.438) with runners in scoring position in the game and had 10 of its 15 hits with runners on base ... Seven of the 15 hits went for extra bases, including six doubles and the home run by Zech ... Prior to joining the Wildcats last season Zech hit five home runs in 2009 and 2010 while playing his first two collegiate seasons for Central Florida CC ... Jones is the first Villanova hitter with three doubles in a game since Dain Hall had three doubles at USF on April 25, 2010 ... The feat has been accomplished by six different Wildcats since 2004 ... Schrenk is 10-for-32 (.313) with 11 RBI, five walks and a .405 on-base percentage as a pinch hitter in his career ... Villanova has committed only two errors in its last eight games and has a .975 fielding percentage with 12 double plays turned through the first 11 games.