March 14, 2012
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - Three pitchers combined to retire 19 of the last 22 batters and Villanova (11-6) rode those efforts on the mound to a 4-1 victory over University of the Sciences (4-4) at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth on Wednesday afternoon. All five runs scored in the game were unearned and the Wildcats limited the Devils to just four hits while striking out 13 in the win.
Sophomore starting pitcher Max Almonte (Long Beach, N.Y.) had a career-high seven strikeouts over five innings pitched while allowing two hits, two walks and an unearned run. He ran into an early jam in the top of the first inning with the bases loaded and one out but used a strikeout and a soft liner to left field to escape the inning with no damage being done.
Villanova led 2-0 in the top of the third inning when Jon McMahon batted with two outs and grounded a run-scoring single through the right side to score Kyle Davis, who was in scoring position after a passed ball. From that point on Almonte (1-1, 9.22 ERA) was on cruise control and retired seven of the last eight batters he faced, including four on called third strikes.
The run of outs continued with junior Matt Longfield (Miami, Fla.) and freshman Jeff Courter (Maple Glen, Pa.) - both lefties - pitching two scoreless innings apiece. Longfield struck out five of the six batters he faced in the sixth and seventh innings and Courter finished off the game with two scoreless innings to earn a save in his first collegiate pitching appearance.
All of the offense the Wildcats needed to support the pitching effort came on single runs in each of the first three innings. Villanova made University of the Sciences pay for its defensive miscues - five errors in all - and also got hits from eight of the nine spots in the lineup.
Senior shortstop Marlon Calbi (Montclair, N.J.) led off the bottom of the first inning with a bunt single and with senior third baseman Kevin Wager (Holden, Mo.) at the plate went from first to third on a failed pickoff attempt. Wager lined a single to left field which scored Calbi with the game's first run.
It was Calbi who drove in the game's second run when he hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the second inning, bringing home freshman first baseman Brandon Carr (Danville, Calif.) who reached on a fielder's choice and advanced to third on a double by senior center fielder Jordan Zech (Naples, Fla.). Zech had a single and a double in the game and was the lone Wildcat with more than one hit in the game.
Senior right fielder Matt Fleishman (East Northport, N.Y.) extended his hitting streak to eight games with a single that led off the bottom of the third inning. He moved to second on a single by senior designated hitter Andrew Geenen (Portola Valley, Calif.) and scored on a fielder's choice one out later when a relay throw to first base went astray.
The final run of the game scored in the bottom of the fifth inning when junior second baseman Tyler Sciacca (Staten Island, N.Y.) doubled with two outs and nobody on, then scored on a double steal attempt with Geenen that featured a throw to second base being muffed as Sciacca crossed the plate.
Devils starter Dan McMahon (1-2, 1.33 ERA) was charged with all four Villanova runs in five innings of work, although all four runs crossed the plate as a result of errors. McMahon allowed six hits while walking one and striking out four.
This weekend the Wildcats will host the Big Five Baseball Bash and their tournament schedule begins with a 3:15 p.m. game against NYIT on Friday afternoon.