March 16, 2003
PRINCESS ANNE, MD. - Villanova wound down its series with Maryland Eastern Shore in fine fashion on Sunday, March 16, in Princess Anne, Md., defeating the Hawks 8-3 to take the three-game series two games to one. The `Cats got a strong outing from sophomore Nick Allen who struck out a career-high nine in seven innings, and senior center fielder Chris Graziano was a headache on the basepaths for Maryland Eastern Shore stealing three bases in the victory. Villanova improved to 3-8 on the season with Sunday's win - their second straight victory. The Hawks record fell to 1-6 on the year.
For the third consecutive game of the series, the Wildcats got on the scoreboard first. Villanova scored two runs in the top of the first inning to jump out to a 2-0 lead. With runners on second and third and one out in the inning, Hawk pitcher Graylon Kitchens uncorked a wild pitch allowing Graziano to score the game's first run. Senior right fielder Mitch Mitchell helped add to the lead with a RBI groundout to give the `Cats a two-run advantage.
Villanova extended its lead to 3-0 in the top of the third inning. Graziano led the inning off with a double down the right field line, and scored one batter later on a RBI single by junior third baseman Danny Poydenis.
In the top of the fifth inning, Graziano single-handedly manufactured another Wildcat run. He reached on a bunt single to lead off the inning and stole second and third for his fifth and sixth stolen bases of the series. With runners at first and third after an infield single by junior designated hitter Adrian Schau, Kitchens threw over to first base to try to catch Schau napping. Graziano immediately broke for the plate and slid in for a successful steal of home. His third stolen base of the game, seventh of the series and tenth of the season gave the `Cats a 4-0 lead. Senior first baseman Ryan Crammer added an RBI single later in the inning to extend Villanova's lead to 5-0.
The Hawks cut the Wildcat lead to 5-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning as they were finally able to put together consecutive hits off of Allen. Peter Mayta singled to start the sixth and Joel Maher followed with a double down the right-field line to put runners at second and third. With two outs later in the inning, first baseman Greg Cathel singled up the middle to score both runners and trim the lead to three runs.
In the top of the seventh inning, Mitchell doubled to left to score Poydenis and extend the margin to 6-2.
Still up by the score of 6-2 in the top of the eighth inning, Villanova added two insurance runs to take a controlling 8-3 advantage. Junior shortstop Brian Trotta scored the first run of the frame on a wild pitch and Graziano lofted a sacrifice fly to left for the Wildcats' final run.
With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the ninth, junior left-hander Mike Ciccotelli came into the game and got Maher to ground into the game-ending 1-2-3 double play.
Allen (2-1) got the win on the mound for Villanova, giving up just two runs on five hits in seven innings, walking one and striking out a career-high nine batters. Kitchens (0-1) took the loss for Maryland Eastern Shore, allowing eight runs (seven earned) on 12 hits in eight innings, striking out five.
At the plate for the `Cats, Graziano went three-for-four with a double, three runs scored, three stolen bases and one RBI. In addition, Poydenis went one-for-four with two runs scored and an RBI, Schau went two-for-five with two stolen bases, Mitchell was one-for-four with a double and two RBI, and Crammer went two-for-five with one RBI.
The Wildcats are scheduled to get back into action on Tuesday, March 18, hosting Saint Joseph's at 3:00 p.m., at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth.