Wildcats Top Xavier 7-2 in Florida Finale
March 7, 2012
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - Senior southpaw Kyle Helisek (Cranberry Township, Pa.) allowed just four hits and did not give up an earned run in six-plus innings of work and Villanova (7-5) closed out its six-game trip to Florida with a 7-2 win over Xavier (4-8) at North Charlotte Regional Park in the Snowbird Baseball Classic on Wednesday afternoon. The Wildcats head back home after going 4-2 during the trip and outscoring their six opponents by a 54-24 margin.
In today's finale Villanova built a 5-0 lead in the first four innings of the game and then Helisek (2-1, 3.38 ERA) and two relievers protected the lead until the Wildcats added two late insurance runs to put the game out of reach. Helisek surrendered four hits and walked six but avoided trouble by holding the Musketeers to going 2-for-11 (.182) with runners on base while he was in the game.
Helisek had plenty of help from his battery mate as junior catcher Brandon Clark (Spring, Texas) went 3-for-4 with three runs batted in and also threw out a base stealer in a key spot to end the fourth inning. Clark had an RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the third inning and then delivered again in the bottom of the seventh with a two-run single that accounted for the insurance runs Villanova needed to secure the outcome.
The first four runs of the game scored with two outs and a single by freshman first baseman Brandon Carr (Danville, Calif.) after there were two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the second inning sparked what became a three-run rally. Junior center fielder Paul Rambaud (Chicago, Ill.) followed with a bunt single and senior shortstop Marlon Calbi (Montclair, N.J.) singled to plate Carr and give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.
Rambaud and Calbi made the next two runs that scored in the inning possible largely through heads-up base running. Rambaud hustled from first to third on the single by Calbi, who in turn took second base on the relay throw to third. Senior third baseman Kevin Wager (Holden, Mo.) next beat out an infield hit on a slow roller up the third base line. Calbi went from second to third while the ball was rolling and kept going when the ball was thrown to first, eventually sliding in safely at home to beat a throw.
Villanova was back at it in the third inning, when junior second baseman Tyler Sciacca (Staten Island, N.Y.) drew a one-out walk, moved up to second on a groundout and stole third before scoring on Clark's single down the left field line.
Rambaud led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a single and went from first to third on an errant pickoff throw. He broke from first before the pitcher turned and saw him, continued on to third when the pickoff throw went astray and later in the inning scored on a muffed pickoff throw to first with Wager on base.
A 12-hit attack was led by Clark and Rambaud with three hits apiece, while Sciacca and Rambaud each scored two runs. All nine batters in the lineup reached base safely at least once in the game.
Helisek didn't allow a hit until Derek Hasenbeck singled up the middle to lead off the fourth inning. He was erased just as quickly, though, as Helisek picked him off first to notch the 10th pickoff of his career. Seth Dawes then drew a one-out walk but was eventually caught stealing by Clark to end the inning.
In the top of the seventh inning a fielding error and a walk gave Xavier runners at first and second with nobody out and chased Helisek in favor of junior right-hander Kevin MacLachlan (Matawan, N.J.). MacLachlan hit the first batter he faced to load the bases with nobody out in what was a 5-1 game at the time. He came back in a big way, however, striking out the next two batters to diffuse the Musketeers rally. Although a walk with the bases loaded forced in a run and made the score 5-2, MacLachlan fanned Dawes in the cleanup spot to end the inning.
Xavier starting pitcher Scott Klever (0-1, 11.05 ERA) went the first four innings and allowed six hits and five runs (four earned) while walking three and striking out one.
Each year the end of the Spring Break trip for the Wildcats marks the end of the first three weeks of the season and serves as the first barometer of sorts for the young season. Villanova heads home with a 7-5 record and is firing on all cylinders coming off of the Florida trip. As a team the Wildcats batted .343 over their six games in the Sunshine State, pitched to a 3.50 ERA and played defense with a .987 fielding percentage.
Upon returning home Villanova will host the Villanova Classic this weekend at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth, where the first three opponents on the home schedule are Maryland-Eastern Shore, Iona and Central Connecticut State. The first game of the set is on Friday afternoon at 2:15 p.m. when the Wildcats square off against Maryland-Eastern Shore. Freshman right-hander Tyler Radtke (Buffalo Grove, Ill.) is scheduled to make his first collegiate start in that contest.