March 13, 2012
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - In an extra-inning contest that included three ties, three lead changes and a combined 29 hits consecutive bunts to start the top of the 10th inning were misplayed for two bases each and the sequence wound up sparking a four-run rally that led Villanova (10-6) to a 10-7 victory in 10 innings over Saint Joseph's (3-13) on the Maguire Campus on Tuesday afternoon. Villanova batted around in the 10th inning and came out on top for its 10th win in the last 13 games.
Junior second baseman Tyler Sciacca (Staten Island, N.Y.) led off the 10th inning by attempting to bunt for a base hit and wound up at second base when the ball was thrown away. Junior center fielder Paul Rambaud (Chicago, Ill.) was up next and he too bunted a ball which was misplayed, allowing Sciacca to score and Rambaud to get to second base himself.
The run scored by Sciacca gave the Wildcats a 7-6 advantage with nobody out in the inning but the next two batters each struck out to put the Hawks on the verge of limiting the damage to just one run. Villanova added what turned out to be much-needed insurance however, as three straight hitters delivered run-scoring singles that stretched the margin to 10-6. Senior right fielder Jordan Zech (Naples, Fla.), senior shortstop Marlon Calbi (Montclair, N.J.) and senior third baseman Kevin Wager (Holden, Mo.) all drove in runs with two outs.
In the bottom of the 10th inning the first two Saint Joseph's batters were retired but the next three all singled, plating one run to make the score 10-7 and also bringing the potential tying run to the plate with runners at first and second. Senior reliever Julian Diaz (Trenton, N.J.) needed only three more pitches to end the game though, as a fly ball to right field secured the victory once and for all.
Sciacca, Zech and sophomore designated hitter Connor Jones (Chandler, Ariz.) all had three hits for the Wildcats and senior left fielder Matt Fleishman (East Northport, N.Y.) connected on a two-run home run to extend his hitting streak to seven games. Villanova scored its 10 runs on 14 hits and has now had 10 or more hits in six straight games. The team with the top on-base percentage in the BIG EAST Conference also had three walks and a hit batter.
Early in the game the Hawks scored once in the bottom of the second inning to take a brief 1-0 lead but the Wildcats answered right back with a run in the top of the third inning to tie the score. The game was still tied, 1-1, in the top of the fifth inning when Fleishman hit a two-out, two-run home run to left-center field to give Villanova its first of three leads on the day. His third home run of the season was followed by a single from Jones and a double from Sciacca to extend the lead to 4-1.
Saint Joseph's scored three runs of its own in the bottom of the fifth to tie the score again at 4-4, then retook the lead at 5-4 in the bottom of the sixth inning. And so the tables continued to turn, and turn again. A pinch-hit single by senior Andrew Geenen (Portola Valley, Calif.) with two outs in the top of the seventh inning brought in two runs and restored the Wildcats lead at 6-5. In the bottom of the eighth inning a single by Stefan Kancylarz tied the game again at 6-6 and the Hawks nearly went back out in front before Kancylarz was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
Diaz (1-1, 3.60 ERA) entered the game in a tough spot in the bottom of the ninth inning and ensured that Villanova would have a chance to make one final rally in extra innings. He came on with a runner at second and one out in a 6-6 game in the ninth, struck out Quinn Renner on three pitches and then got Chris Hueth to ground to second to end the inning.
Senior starting pitcher Kyle Helisek (Cranberry Township, Pa.) pitched the first 4 1/3 innings for the Wildcats and allowed just one earned run, although four runs total were charged to his account. Villanova led 4-2 with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning but Saint Joseph's had loaded the bases with only one out. Sophomore Matt Lengel (Devon, Pa.) came in from the bullpen and retired the first batter he faced on a sacrifice fly which made the score 4-3. A single Hueth tied the score, 4-4, before Lengel ended the inning. He went on to pitch four solid innings of relief to get the game into the late innings and hand the ball to Diaz for what turned out to be the final five outs.
Today's game marked the first time the Wildcats were playing on the Hawks new field on the Maguire Campus in Philadelphia and also avenged an 11-7 loss to Saint Joseph's last season.
Villanova is back home on Wednesday to host University of the Sciences at 3:15 p.m. at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth.
NOTES: Fleishman is batting .552 (16-29) with a 1.103 slugging percentage during his seven-game hitting streak ... Nine of the 16 hits have been for extra bases, including four doubles, two triples and a home run ... He began the day leading the BIG EAST Conference in both batting average and slugging percentage ... Villanova is batting .360 (80-222) as a team over the last six games.