Rally Falls Short as Wildcats Edged by La Salle, 11-9
March 15, 2014
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Senior center fielder Connor Jones (Chandler, Ariz.) smacked a pair of triples and legged out a stand-up, inside-the-park home run but a rally in the late innings came up short as Villanova (4-11) dropped an 11-9 decision to La Salle (3-13) at Hank DeVincent Field on Friday afternoon. With a gusty wind affecting every ball that was hit into the air the teams combined for 20 runs on 22 hits, with the Wildcats nearly coming back from two separate six-run deficits.
Jones had hits and scored runs in three straight innings from the sixth through the eighth to push along the comeback bid. He led off the top of the sixth inning with Villanova trailing 6-0 and tripled into the right field corner to start what became a two-run rally. In the seventh inning he pulled the Wildcats to within 8-6 when he one-hopped the 450 sign in deep center field for an easy three-run home run. After the Explorers stretched their lead back to five runs Jones hit a two-run triple in the eighth and scored one batter later to make the score 11-9. La Salle was able to stop the rally there, however, and the final four Villanova batters of the game were retired in order.
Freshman second baseman Todd Czinege (Overland Park, Kan.) had two hits and two runs batted in. He drove in Jones after each of his triples, with the RBI coming on a line drive single to left field in the sixth and a run-scoring groundout in the top of the eighth. Sophomore left fielder Adam Goss (Bellaire, Texas) and sophomore third baseman Kevin Jewitt (West Chester, Pa.) each were on base twice with a hit and a walk and both scored two times.
Long before the Wildcats got on the board the Explorers jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. Kevin Conroy hit a two-run home run over the short fence in left field but the bigger hit in the inning was a two-out, two-run double to left by Cameron Johnson three batters after the home run. La Salle was 8-for-17 and scored nine of its 11 runs with two outs during the game.
Junior starting pitcher Josh Harris (Streamwood, Ill.) allowed eight hits and six runs in 4 2/3 innings, while walking two and striking out five. Harris (1-4, 5.13 ERA) pitched well for the majority of his outing and only found real trouble after there were two outs in the second and fifth innings. He struck out Explorers right fielder Justin Korenblatt to end both the first and second innings, retired the side in order in the third and worked around a leadoff single with a sacrifice bunt, fly out, and strikeout in the home half of the fourth.
In the top of the sixth inning Jones led off with his first triple of the game, Czinege followed with his RBI single and freshman designated hitter Brian Trabulsi (Malverne, N.Y.) doubled. Freshman right fielder Donovan May (Newark, Del.) grounded into a fielder's choice which scored Czinege with the second run of the inning.
La Salle got the two runs back in the bottom of the sixth when fly balls to left field by Kevin Baron and Korenblatt each fell in for two-base hits after being blown around by the wind. Baron reached on a leadoff double and Korenblatt plated two runs when he came up with runners at the corners and two outs.
In the bottom of the eighth inning a fielding error by Villanova with two outs extended the inning and the Explorers took advantage of the miscue by scoring three unearned runs against junior reliever Matt Lengel (Devon, Pa.). Lengel and senior Matt Meurer (Katy, Texas) combined to work the final 2 1/3 innings of the contest without allowing an earned run.
Shane Hollman (2-1, 4.15 ERA) started for the Explorers and allowed two earned runs on six hits in five-plus innings of work. He walked one, struck out five and departed after allowing Trabulsi's double with nobody out in the top of the sixth inning. Shawn O'Neill pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his first save of the season.
The game was the first of three for the Wildcats in the Big Five Baseball Bash this weekend. Villanova will take on St. Peter's on Saturday at 2 p.m., with the game scheduled to be played at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth as long as conditions allow for it.