March 9, 2013
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - Pitching and defense was the story of the game just like it had been in the opening game and Villanova (3-8) swept a doubleheader from Iona (2-10) by winning the nightcap 3-1 at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth on Saturday afternoon. Earlier in the day the Wildcats won the first game of the twin bill 5-2 to kick off this weekend's Villanova Baseball Classic.
Sophomore left-handed pitcher Josh Harris (Streamwood, Ill.) continued his excellent start to the season by going seven innings without allowing an unearned run. He picked up his second win of the season and Villanova led wire to wire thanks to scoring single runs in the first, third and sixth innings.
Harris (2-1, 1.35 ERA) faced the minimum number of batters through the first four innings and eventually turned the game over to classmate JB Kole (Basking Ridge, N.J.), who threw two scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth for his second save of the year. Harris and Kole combined to allow just seven hits and the Wildcats limited Iona to 11 hits total in the doubleheader, including holding the Gaels to a combined 3-for-20 (.150) with runners on base in the two games.
Freshman second baseman Adam Goss (Bellaire, Texas) and senior shortstop Tyler Sciacca (Staten Island, N.Y.) each had two hits to lead Villanova offensively. They also combined for three of the Wildcats season high six stolen bases in the game, with Sciacca and sophomore first baseman Brandon Carr (Danville, Calif.) each swiping their second and third bases of the year.
In the bottom of the first inning Sciacca came up with two outs and nobody on and drew a five-pitch walk against Iona starting pitcher Max Bruckner (2-2, 6.75 ERA) to start a rally. Sciacca stole second and advanced to third when the throw to second base was high, then scored when senior left fielder Steve Schrenk (Brigantine, N.J.) singled to left-center field on a full count to deliver the game's first run.
Senior center fielder Paul Rambaud (Chicago, Ill.) led off the bottom of the third inning with a double down the left field line and scored four pitches later when Goss singled up the middle to give Villanova a 2-0 lead. In the bottom of the sixth inning sophomore designated hitter B.J. Bochicchio (Moosic, Pa.) was hit by a pitch with one out, stole second and hustled home to score on a fly out by Carr which turned into a rare two-base sacrifice fly.
Even in a tight game there was little doubt that the runs put up by Villanova were enough support for Harris, who has pitched 20.0 innings this season while allowing only 19 hits and three walks. After allowing a one-out single and stolen base to Matt Kriss into the top of the first inning he stayed out of trouble when Matt Hratko lined into an inning-ending double play to Goss.
The double play was the first of nine straight batters that Harris retired consecutively. The streak ended with two outs in the fourth inning when Hratko worked out a walk but Harris picked him off first to end the inning. In the top of the sixth inning the Gaels had runners at first and second with one out but Harris struck out Kriss on three pitches and got Hratko to foul out to first to end the inning.
Iona had its most dangerous inning offensively in the top of the seventh when two infield hits and a walk loaded the bases with one out. Sean Menickella hit a potential inning-ending double play ball but the Wildcats got only one out on the play and Christian Choman scored an unearned run to get the Gaels on the board. Harris wasn't fazed however, and he got pinch hitter Chris Sand to fly out to center field on the very next pitch to end the inning.
Kole retired six of the seven batters he faced over the final two innings and worked around a harmless one-out single in the ninth inning with a foul out and a groundout to end the game.
Villanova managed six hits and three runs (two earned) in 5 2/3 innings against Bruckner, who walked three and struck out eight. Relief pitcher Kenny Dietrich kept the Wildcats from adding any more runs in his 2 1/3 innings of work.
The weekend schedule concludes on Sunday afternoon when senior right-hander Stephen Ostapeck (Sacramento, Calif.) pitches against Central Connecticut. Game time is 1:15 p.m. at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth.
NOTES: Villanova had four stolen bases in its first nine games before stealing 10 bags in 12 tries in the doubleheader ... The six steals in the nightcap were the most in a game for the Wildcats since the team had eight stolen bases at Temple last season on April 25, 2012 ... Rambaud has reached base safely in all 11 games this season and is the only Villanova player to do so ... He and Schrenk are each riding four-game hitting streaks.