PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - On its final day of competition at the Snowbird Baseball Classic on Tuesday afternoon, Villanova (3-6) mustered just two hits and were shut out for the second straight game in a 6-0 loss to Western Michigan (6-4) at North Charlotte Regional Park. Freshman pitcher Jimmy Kingsbury (Phoenixville, Pa.) made his first collegiate start on the mound and held the Broncos without a hit until the fourth inning in an effective overall outing.
Sophomore first baseman Ryan Toohers (Florham Park, N.J.) singled in the top of the fourth inning for the first hit of the game by either team, and senior center fielder David Gulati (Collegeville, Pa.) doubled with two outs in the fifth inning for the Wildcats only other hit. Villanova did walk five times and get hit by a pitch once to account for six other base runners, but also struck out 16 times for the second straight game.
Western Michigan got on the board without a hit in the bottom of the first inning after leadoff batter Conner Henderson was hit by a pitch and eventually scored following two stolen bases and a wild pitch. He was at second base with one out and broke for third while Jesse Forestell was at the plate. The pitch to Forestell was in the dirt and bounced away to the backstop, allowing Henderson to not only reach third uncontested but also to score on a close play at the plate.
Despite that early run, Kingsbury wound up retiring 11 straight after the leadoff hit by pitch in the first inning. He struck out the last two batters of the second inning and added two more strikeouts in the third during that stretch of 11 in a row set down. He walked cleanup hitter Nate Grys with two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the second, and Grys advanced to second on a wild pitch before Jimmy Roche singled up the middle for the Broncos first hit of the game which also pushed the score to 2-0.
Junior catcher Doug deMarrais (Bernardsville, N.J.) walked with one out in the top of the fifth inning and Gulati doubled to the gap in right-center with two outs. deMarrais only could advance to third on the hit however, and both runners were stranded in scoring position when Western Michigan reliever Andrew Reisinger got a strikeout to end the inning.
After escaping that jam, the Broncos doubled their lead to 4-0 by manufacturing two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Sean O’Keefe drew a leadoff walk and Beau Filkins singled before a balk by Kingsbury advanced both runners into scoring position. O’Keefe scored on an RBI groundout by Henderson and Filkins came home on a wild pitch by junior reliever Jason Applegate (Columbus, N.J.). Kingsbury wound up allowing just two hits to the 18 batters he faced, while walking two and striking out five in 4 1/3 innings.
Senior reliever Conor McCarthy (Glenview, Ill.) pitched two scoreless innings of relief in the sixth and seventh innings before Western Michigan added two more runs in the bottom of the eighth. McCarthy did not allow a hit, walked none and struck out one in his outing.
The next stop for the Wildcats on their Spring Break swing through Florida is in Clearwater for a Thursday afternoon contest against Philadelphia Phillies minor league prospects. The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. first pitch and will be played at Spectrum Field at the Phillies minor league and spring training complex.
This will be the first time Villanova plays this type of exhibition against a major league organization’s prospects, but the Wildcats have good history at Spectrum Field. The site previously hosted the BIG EAST Championships and when the tournament went to Clearwater for the first time in 2008, Villanova qualified as the #8 seed out of eight teams and knocked off top-seeded St. John’s en route to making a run to the semifinals. Spectrum Field is also the home of the Phillies minor league affiliate in the Florida State League, the Class-A Clearwater Threshers.