Wildcats Rally Past Saint Joseph's 9-6 (10 Innings) for Eighth Straight Win
March 17, 2009
NORRISTOWN, Pa. - Redshirt freshman David Koczirka (Thornton, Pa.) hit a three-run triple with two outs in the top of the 10th inning and Villanova (10-6) rallied past Saint Joseph's (4-10) 9-6 on Tuesday afternoon at Latshaw-McCarthy Field for the team's eighth straight victory. The winning streak is the longest since 2002 and matches the best streak in the head coaching tenure of Joe Godri.
The Wildcats scored four runs in the top of the eighth inning to tie the game and then completed the comeback with Koczirka's big hit in the 10th. The inning started with a one-out walk to senior Wes Borden (State College, Pa.), who then managed to cross from first to second and prevent a possible double play when classmate Matt McFolling (Chicago, Ill.) grounded out to second on a 2-and-1 pitch. Senior Joe Cotter (Bryn Mawr, Pa.) was intentionally walked to remove the open base at first and senior Kyle Carver (Aldan, Pa.) was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Koczirka was up next and got a hold of a 1-and-2 pitch that he drove to right-center field to clear the bases.
After Villanova fell behind 6-2 at the end of the sixth inning, sophomore Mike Francisco (Newtown Square, Pa.) pitched three scoreless innings to hold the Hawks at bay and Carver came in from first base to pitch the bottom of the 10th for his first save of the season.
McFolling and Koczirka had three hits apiece for the Wildcats, who accumulated 12 hits and 10 bases on balls as the offense kept rolling. Villanova is batting .347 with a .465 team on-base percentage during the eight-game winning streak.
Koczirka also started the rally in the eighth inning with a one-out double down the left field line. He eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by redshirt freshman Matt Szczur (Erma, N.J.) for the first run of the inning, before the Wildcats scored three times with two outs in the frame. Sophomore Dain Hall (Barrington, Ill.) doubled home two runs and Borden followed with a run-scoring single which tied the game at 6-6.
Villanova batters went 8-for-19 (.421) with two outs and the Wildcats scored all nine of their runs in the game with two outs. All three of McFolling's hits in the game came with two outs and both of Borden's hits came with two outs as well. Borden finished 2-for-4 and hit one of Villanova's three doubles in the game.
Before Saint Joseph's scored six unanswered runs with three in the fourth and three more in the sixth, the Wildcats took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Szczur bunted for a hit to start the inning, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior Joe Rosati (Havertown, Pa.), crossed to third on a groundout and eventually scored on a balk. Borden doubled to right-center field after Szczur scored and McFolling followed with a single that brought Borden home.
In his three scoreless innings of relief, Francisco scattered four hits and a walk while striking out two. He has now pitched 14.0 consecutive scoreless innings over his last seven appearances. Carver allowed a leadoff single in the bottom of the 10th before retiring three straight hitters to end the game.
Freshman Kyle Helisek (Cranberry Township, Pa.) pitched five effective innings in his third start of the season for Villanova. He allowed just five hits and three earned runs while walking one and striking out two. Helisek faced the minimum number of batters through the first three innings before running into trouble in the bottom of the fourth, but then worked around a leadoff hit to retire the side in the fifth. Freshman Kyle McMyne (Old Forge, Pa.) relieved classmate Jerry Battipaglia (Katonah, N.Y.) in the bottom of the sixth inning with two runs in, the bases loaded and none out. He allowed a sacrifice fly to the first batter he faced and then induced a line-out double play to end the inning with no further damage.
Mike Coleman had three hits at the top of the order for the Hawks and Ryan McDonald had two hits and two runs scored. Starting pitcher A.J. Holland allowed two runs on six hits in four innings of work. Matt Barnathan, who went 2-for-4 with a run scored and RBI as the left fielder, pitched the 10th inning and was the losing pitcher in his first decision of the season.
Villanova begins conference play this weekend with a three-game series at St. John's. Game times are 3 p.m. on Friday, 1 p.m. on Saturday and Noon on Sunday.
NOTES: The Wildcats last won eight straight games from March 5-17, 2002 ... That was Godri's first year as head coach ... The 2002 team, riding the eight-game winning streak, also opened conference play on the road against St. John's ... Szczur's bunt single to lead off the game extended his hitting streak to 14 games ... Today's game was just his 15th collegiate game ... McFolling has an eight-game hitting streak during which he is batting .577.