Wildcats Rally Past Niagara For 6-5 Walkoff Win in Ninth
March 9, 2014
MERION STATION, Pa. - Sophomore left fielder Adam Goss (Bellaire, Texas) scored from second with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning when a soft liner was dropped just behind shortstop and Villanova (4-10) walked off to a 6-5 victory over Niagara (4-10) at Smithson Field on Sunday afternoon. Earlier in the game the Wildcats rallied from a 5-0 deficit in the third inning and the teams played from the fourth inning on tied at 5-5 until Villanova plated the winning run.
Senior center fielder Connor Jones (Chandler, Ariz.) and freshman designated hitter Brian Trabulsi (Malverne, N.Y.) each drove in two runs, while Jones and freshman second baseman Todd Czinege (Overland Park, Kan.) had two hits apiece. The win was the second this season which came in the Wildcats final at-bat.
With one out and nobody on in the bottom of the ninth inning sophomore catcher Emmanuel Morris (Willowbrook, Ill.) was hit by a pitch. Goss followed by bunting into a fielder's choice for the second out but he then moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. At that point the Eagles walked sophomore third baseman Kevin Jewitt (West Chester, Pa.) to set up the potential for a force play. Sophomore first baseman Max Beermann (Tampa, Fla.) was up next and on the first pitch he saw hit a soft liner just over shortstop that dropped off the glove of the Niagara defender.
Villanova also received a big lift from the second two of the four pitchers used on the day. Junior Kagan Richardson (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) and senior Chris Haggarty (Valley Cottage, N.Y.) combined to throw 6 2/3 scoreless innings of relief while striking out 10 and allowing just one hit. Richardson entered the game with two outs and a man on in the top of the third inning and retired eight straight batters after walking the first man he faced. He struck out four over 2 2/3 innings and Haggarty (1-0, 1.04 ERA) had a career-high six strikeouts over four scoreless frames.
Michael Fuhrman hit a solo home run in the top of the first inning and the Eagles batted around while scoring four unearned runs in the top of the second to take a 5-0 lead. Niagara starting pitcher Drew Fittry retired the first eight Wildcats batters of the game but, after there were two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the third, Villanova exploded for five runs which tied the game.
Redshirt freshman right fielder Mike Mecca (Ridgefield, N.J.) was hit by a pitch to start the rally, while Goss lined a single to right and Jewitt walked to load the bases. Beermann walked with the bases loaded to force in the first run of the inning, Jones hit a two-run single through the right side and Trabulsi lined a game-tying, two-run double down the left field line.
Fittry lasted through the sixth inning after the Wildcats tied the game and wound up allowing five hits and five earned runs while walking three and striking out five. Jacob Lysiak (0-1, 3.75 ERA) went the final 2 2/3 innings in relief and was charged with the unearned game-winning run.
Villanova's rally gave a no-decision to junior starting pitcher JB Kole (Basking Ridge, N.J.), who allowed five runs total but just one earned run in 1 2/3 innings. He gave up the home run to Fuhrman in the first inning which just cleared the right-center field fence and later got into trouble with two outs in the second inning after an error had extended the inning.
Geoff Seto doubled with one out in the top of the second and advanced to third on Kevin Paulsen's grounder to second, with Paulsen safe at first on a fielding error. Anthony Firenzi bounced into a fielder's choice on which Seto was thrown out at the plate but the two remaining runners advanced to second on a wild pitch and Taylor Hackett walked to load the bases. Fuhrman walked to force in a run and Kole departed with the bases still loaded. Joel Klock walked against freshman reliever Donovan Armas (Bellerose Village, N.Y.) and Greg Rodgers hit a two-run single through the right side before Armas ended the inning by getting Pavel Chavez-Rusova to fly out.
In the top of the third inning Jordan Schwartz drew a leadoff walk and was caught stealing for the first out. After Seto beat out an infield hit to third Richardson entered the game and walked Paulsen. He recovered and got Firenzi on a fly out to right and Hackett on a called third strike to strand two runners. Richardson then retired the side in order in the fourth and fifth innings to give the Wildcats some momentum in the field.
This weekend's Villanova Baseball Classic was rescheduled into a tournament played on the Saint Joseph's campus and the Wildcats came away with two victories in three games. Villanova defeated the Hawks on Friday afternoon, 8-2, before falling to Temple on Saturday, 7-3.