March 13, 2013
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - An unearned run that scored with two outs in the top of the third inning was the only score of the game on a cold and windy afternoon and Villanova (3-11) lost by a narrow 1-0 margin to Division II member University of the Sciences (5-5) at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth on Wednesday afternoon.
The cold weather and a stiff wind blowing in from left-center field demanded strong pitching and defense, with both teams standing up to that task. Three pitchers for the Wildcats combined for 15 strikeouts while allowing only four singles, and two pitchers for the Devils teamed up on a seven-hit shutout. The result was only the fourth 1-0 game that Villanova has played in going back to the 2006 season.
In the top of the third inning there were two outs and nobody on when T.J. Maiorino walked on a full count to become the first Sciences base runner base runner of the game. Leadoff hitter Nick Szalejko followed with a single to right field and Jon Gartland reached on an error when he hit a slow hopper to second base. With the bases loaded and Devils leading hitter Kyle Davis at the plate a wild pitch allowed Maiorino to score and give Sciences a 1-0 lead.
Davis wound up hitting the ball hard towards the gap in deep left-center field but senior center fielder Paul Rambaud (Chicago, Ill.) ran it down and made a difficult catch to end the inning and prevent two more runs from scoring.
The game showcased the depth of the Wildcats left-handed pitching, as all three pitchers used by Villanova were southpaws. Junior starter Matt Meurer (Katy, Texas), a swingman so far this season between the bullpen and the weekday rotation, registered career highs of five innings pitched and seven strikeouts while effectively mixing up his pitches to keep the Sciences batters off balance.
Meurer (0-4, 7.04 ERA) struck out Andrew Hollander with runners at second and third to end the top of the fourth inning and got cleanup hitter Ronnie Petito to ground into a fielder's choice to end the fifth inning with runners at first and second.
Senior reliever Matt Longfield (Miami, Fla.) pitched three hitless innings from the sixth through the eighth and had a career high six strikeouts, while sophomore Jeff Courter (Maple Glen, Pa.) pitched the ninth and escaped a bases-loaded jam by striking out Connor Lennox to end the inning. Devils batters were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
With runs so hard to come by on a cold day the Wildcats played for the tie first in the later innings and advanced runners to third base each inning from the sixth through the eighth. Sciences starting pitcher John McConville (1-1, 6.94 ERA) and reliever C.J. Hertz made big pitches when they needed to though, and Villanova was hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position.
Senior left fielder Steve Schrenk (Brigantine, N.J.) went 3-for-4 and doubled in the bottom of the fourth inning to account for the only extra-base hit in the game. Senior catcher Brandon Clark (Spring, Texas) went 2-for-3 and was the only other Wildcats hitter with a multi-hit game.
In the bottom of the sixth inning a one-out single by Schrenk gave Villanova runners at first and second with one out, while the lead runner moved up to third base when senior pinch hitter John Cialone (Houston, Texas) hit a fly ball to deep center. Clark was at the plate when the Wildcats attempted a double steal but the Devils successfully deked the runners when the catcher, Lennox, faked to second base but instead threw the ball back to McConville on the mound. McConville then made an accurate throw to third base for the third out.
Clark led off the seventh inning with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and took third on a groundball to short, but was stranded 90 feet from the plate when Hertz got a strikeout to end the inning. Freshman second baseman Adam Goss (Bellaire, Texas) singled with one out in the eighth inning and went first-to-third on a two-out single by Schrenk but Hertz got out of the inning on another deep fly ball by Cialone.
McConville allowed five hits while walking two and striking out six in six-plus innings and Hertz gave up just two singles and struck out two to pick up his first save of the season.
Villanova next hosts the Big Five Baseball Bash this weekend and will get underway in its second home tournament on Friday afternoon with a 3:15 p.m. matchup against Chicago State.
NOTES: Rambaud was hit by a pitch leading off the bottom of the first inning, extending his streak of reaching base safely to 14 straight games to start the season ... Schrenk is riding a seven-game hitting streak and is batting .393 (11-for-28) during that span ... The 15 strikeouts for Villanova pitching is a season high and the most in a game for the Wildcats since a 16-strikeout performance at Norfolk State on February 19, 2010 ... Longfield has not allowed a hit in eight relief outings this season ... Opposing batters are 0-for-20 against him ... This is the first time that University of the Sciences has beaten the Wildcats, although they have played Villanova close in three previous meetings in recent years ... Last season the Wildcats won a close game by a 4-1 final score and in 2010 it took a late Villanova rally to forge a 4-3 victory ... One year earlier, in 2009, the Wildcats scored a 5-1 victory over the Devils, who entered today's game having shut out reigning Division II national champion West Chester, 6-0, in their most recent game.