Five Runs in Final At-Bat Deliver 9-4 Victory over Maryland-Eastern Shore
March 9, 2012
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - Villanova (8-5) scored six unanswered runs in its final two times at bat, including five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, and defeated Maryland-Eastern Shore (0-12) by a final score of 9-4 in its home opener at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth on Friday afternoon. The game was part of this weekend's Villanova Classic that the Wildcats are hosting in conjunction with local schools Saint Joseph's and Temple.
Villanova batted around and sent 11 men to the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning, which began with the score tied at 4-4. Senior second baseman Tyler Sciacca (Staten Island, N.Y.) hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded and nobody out to score the go-ahead and eventual winning run, while junior designated hitter Steve Schrenk (Brigantine, N.J.) and sophomore catcher John Cialone (Houston, Texas) followed with run-scoring singles.
Steadily plummeting temperatures and a gusty wind made for difficult playing conditions, especially the hitters. After the Wildcats scored twice in the bottom of the first inning to grab a quick 2-0 lead they managed just three more hits and only one additional run in the next six games and briefly fell behind by a count of 4-3 after the Hawks scored twice in the top of the seventh inning.
It took no time at all for Villanova to get back on track. Senior center fielder Jordan Zech (Naples, Fla.) drew a walk with two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the seventh inning and scored the tying run one batter later and the Wildcats then broke out the big inning in the bottom of the eighth.
The beneficiary of the five-run eighth inning was sophomore Matt Lengel (Devon, Pa.), who pitched 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to earn the win. Lengel (2-0, 3.97 ERA) entered with two runners on and one out in the top of the seventh inning and replaced freshman Tyler Radtke (Buffalo Grove, Ill.), who looked strong while yielding only two earned runs in 6 1/3 innings in his first collegiate start.
Radtke allowed five hits, walked only one and struck out five while lowering his ERA to 3.07 in 14 2/3 innings this season. In the top of the seventh inning a ball up the middle off the bat of Thomas Gray hit the second base bag and caromed into center field for an RBI single which tied the score at 3-3. Lengel came in after a walk put runners at first and second and struck out leadoff man Stephen Bull for the second out, but Byron Campbell singled through the right side to give Maryland-Eastern Shore a one-run lead.
In the top of the eighth inning Lengel had two strikeouts and finished the inning by picking a runner off first, his third pickoff in his last two appearances. Senior Julian Diaz (Trenton, N.J.) closed out the game with a perfect ninth and the Hawks were limited to only six hits for the afternoon.
Senior left fielder Matt Fleishman (East Northport, N.Y.) went 3-for-4 with a double, triple and home run to lead Villanova offensively and senior third baseman Kevin Wager (Holden, Mo.) had two hits, two runs scored and two runs batted in. Sophomore right fielder Connor Jones (Chandler, Ariz.) was 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI.
The wind was sending the ball all over the field in the bottom of the eighth inning and Wager led off with a double when a fly ball fell in to right-center field. Fleishman followed with a fly ball near the right field line that fell in for another double, with Wager initially tagging up before advancing to third. Jones was next and hit another fly that the wind knocked down and dumped into shallow center field for a single that loaded the bases and set the table for the five runs to come.
Wager and Jones had run-scoring singles in the bottom of the first inning to give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead. Radtke set down the first six batters he faced but Brandon Schott led off the top of the third inning with a triple just inside the left field line and then scored on a wild pitch to get the Hawks on the scoreboard and cut the deficit in half at 2-1.
In the top of the fourth inning James Newsome was hit by a pitch after there were two outs and nobody on and a sinking liner to left field off the bat of Franklin Armstrong eluded Fleishman's slide and rolled almost all the way to the wall for a triple that tied the score at 2-2.
Fleishman led off the bottom of the fourth inning though and on the second pitch he saw wrapped a solo home run around the right field foul pole to restore the Villanova lead at 3-2. It was his second home run of the season and the first since he smashed a grand slam in the season opener at Arkansas.
Starting pitcher Jacob Foreman had a quality start for Maryland-Eastern Shore and allowed four hits and three runs (two earned) in six innings, while walking two and striking out six in his best outing of the season. James Smith (0-2, 11.81 ERA) pitched 1 1/3 innings of relief and was charged with five runs, including the first four that crossed the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Tomorrow afternoon the Wildcats host Iona at 1:15 p.m. in the second game of this weekend's tournament.