March 18, 2011
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - Sophomore reliever Stephen Ostapeck (Sacramento, Calif.) pitched five innings of scoreless relief and the offense simultaneously came to life with eight consecutive runs from the bottom of the third inning on as Villanova (7-10) rallied for an 8-4 win over St. Peter's (3-10) in the first game of the Big Five Baseball Bash at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth on Friday afternoon.
Ostapeck (1-0, 2.57 ERA) was terrific in his longest career outing, as he came in with nobody out and a runner on in the fifth inning and went the distance to earn his first collegiate victory. Ostapeck had a career-high six strikeouts, allowed only two hits to the 16 batters he faced and saw just one runner get as far as second base while he was on the mound.
By the time Ostapeck came into the game the Wildcats had already begun their comeback from a 4-0 deficit, scoring one run in the bottom of the third inning and two more in the fourth to pull to within 4-3. Villanova was far from done, however, as it plated a single run in the fifth inning to tie the score, added the eventual game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh and then sealed the deal with three runs in its final time at-bat in the eighth.
Senior second baseman Dain Hall (Barrington, Ill.) and senior third baseman David Koczirka (Thornton, Pa.) had two hits apiece, as did sophomore left fielder Paul Rambaud (Chicago, Ill.), and seven different players scored at least one run for the Wildcats in the game.
Hall was in the middle of the two most important rallies of the day, as he scored the game's tying run and drove in the go-ahead run. With two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the fifth inning Hall came back from a 1-and-2 hole to work the count full and then line a payoff pitch to left field for a two-out hit. He went on to steal second base and then scored easily when Koczirka grounded a ball through the left side for a run-scoring hit.
In the seventh inning junior shortstop Marlon Calbi (Montclair, N.J.) was hit by a pitch with one out, stole second in short order and scored when Hall took his turn singling through the left side to drive in a run. Villanova had its way on the bases during the game and went 4-for-4 on stolen base attempts, including a pair by Hall which moved him into a tie for fifth place in school history.
It was an opportunistic day for the Wildcats offense and the team scored in three of the four innings in which the leadoff man reached base safely. That included the home half of the fourth inning, when Villanova scored twice to really put a dent in the Peacocks lead and get within a run at 4-3.
Koczirka singled and junior right fielder Matt Fleishman (East Northport, N.Y.) doubled to open the fourth inning, giving the Wildcats two men in scoring position right away. Freshman designated hitter Tyler Reich (Ocean City, N.J.) advanced both runners with an RBI groundout to second and Fleishman came home on a wild pitch to account for the second run of the frame.
Seeking insurance for its one-run lead in the bottom of the eighth inning, Villanova put the game away with three runs thanks to perfect execution of its base-to-base offense. Reich worked out a seven-pitch leadoff walk, junior Andrew Geenen (Portola Valley, Calif.) pinch ran and junior catcher Adam Nelson (St. Joseph, Mo.) beat out a bunt single to make a big inning a possibility. Rambaud followed with another bunt attempt; he would have been safe at first regardless but the throw went down the right field line and both Geenen and Nelson scored with Rambaud racing all the way to third on the play. He scored on a passed ball two outs later to tally the game's final run.
Freshman starting pitcher Matt Lengel (Devon, Pa.) allowed four earned runs in four innings but generally pitched well after St. Peter's took an early lead with three runs in the top of the second inning. He escaped big trouble by stranding a runner in both the third and fourth innings and was lifted after walking Chris Grimes to start the top of the fifth.
Ostapeck came in and on his second pitch got cleanup hitter Brian Schroeder to hit into a double play to clear the bases. Designated hitter Russell Stupienski took a called third strike to end the inning and Ostapeck wound up getting five of his six strikeouts on called third strikes. He threw nearly 75 percent of his pitches for strikes and had just two three-ball counts during his outing.
Relief pitcher Kevin Croucher (0-1, 2.35 ERA) worked the final two innings for the Peacocks and took the loss after allowing Hall's go-ahead single in the seventh plus the three unearned runs in the eighth. Starting pitcher Dom Macaluso allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits in six innings.
Coming up tomorrow the Wildcats host Fairfield at 1:15 p.m. in the second game of this weekend's home tournament.
NOTES: Hall now has 47 career stolen bases and is tied for fifth all-time at Villanova with Kris Molly (2004-06) ... Ryan Arcadia (2005-08) is fourth in school history with 56 steals ... Lengel and Ostapeck combined for seven called third strikes on St. Peter's hitters during the game ... Calbi made a terrific plya to rob Schroeder of a hit leading off the top of the eighth inning ... A ball that was hit hard up the middle took a strange bounce over the mound and then popped up high in the air after hitting the second base bag on its way up the middle ... Calbi barehanded the ball at the edge of the outfield grass and made a strong throw to first to get Schroeder by a step ... Fleishman reached base safely for the 13th consecutive game and also extended his hitting streak to six games, the longest by a Villanova hitter so far this season ... With his two walks in the game Reich has reached base at least once in all four games he has started ... The Wildcats bullpen has a 2.35 ERA over the last four games, with four earned runs in 15 1/3 innings in that span ... All four of the runs came in a loss to Saint Joseph's this past Tuesday ... In the other three games in the four-game span the relief corps has tossed 11 scoreless innings and has two wins and a save to show for those outings.