Sciacca's Walk-Off Single Lifts Wildcats Past Buffalo, 5-4
March 18, 2012
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - Junior second baseman Tyler Sciacca (Staten Island, N.Y.) singled home the game-winning run with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning and Villanova (13-7) came all the way back from a four-run deficit with a walk-off, 5-4 win over Buffalo (6-9) at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth on Sunday afternoon. Two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning completed a comeback from a 4-0 deficit after the first four innings and the Wildcats earned their 19th all-time walk-off win at their home ballpark.
Senior left fielder Matt Fleishman (East Northport, N.Y.) and Sciacca drove in the tying and game-winning runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to complete the Villanova comeback. Senior third baseman Kevin Wager (Holden, Mo.) started the rally with a one-out single in the ninth and moved up to second on a wild pitch before scoring on Fleishman's line drive single up the middle. Fleishman moved up to second on the relay throw home and then advanced to third when sophomore right fielder Connor Jones (Chandler, Ariz.) struck out but reached first on a passed ball. Sciacca showed bunt on the first pitch to him - a called strike - then drilled the second pitch through the left side to end the game.
Wager finished the day 4-for-5 with two runs scored while Fleishman and Sciacca each had two hits and two runs batted in. Fleishman reached on an infield hit and Sciacca hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fifth inning, when the Wildcats scored three times to cut a 4-0 deficit to just one run at 4-3. Villanova finished with 14 hits on the day and got at least one hit from eight of the nine spots in the batting order.
The late comeback and thrilling finish was made possible by terrific relief pitching from sophomore Matt Lengel (Devon, Pa.) and senior Julian Diaz (Trenton, N.J.), who combined to throw 5 2/3 scoreless innings while allowing just four hits and striking out eight. Diaz (2-1, 3.37 ERA) recorded the final two outs in the top of the ninth inning to earn his second win in his last two appearances.
Lengel entered the game with one out and runners at the corners in the top of the fourth inning. He threw a wild pitch which allowed the runner from third to score but eventually escaped the inning with a fly out and a groundout. He went on to pitch five innings and struck out a career-high seven batters, while also helping himself with two pickoffs. In the top of the ninth inning the Bulls still led 4-3 when Michael Burke led off with a single and moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt. With Burke in scoring position and one away Diaz entered and induced a groundball to third for the second out before striking out leadoff hitter Matt Pollock to end the inning.
Buffalo scored two runs in both the third and fourth innings to take a 4-0 lead that stood up until the very end of the game. Pollock singled home the first run of the game and Tom Murphy hit an RBI double in a two-run third inning, while Burke hit an RBI single and scored himself on a wild pitch in the fourth.
All of the runs scored by the Bulls were charged to the account of junior starting pitcher Stephen Ostapeck (Sacramento, Calif.), who exited with one out in the fourth inning due to working on a pitch count. He allowed only five hits but Buffalo nevertheless made the most of their scoring chances in back-to-back innings.
Kevin Crumb (0-4, 2.61 ERA) was the losing pitcher for the Bulls after coming in to pitch the ninth inning and allowing the tying and winning runs to score.
Villanova returns to action with a pair of midweek games at La Salle on Tuesday afternoon (3:15 p.m.) and home versus Penn on Wednesday (3:15 p.m.) before opening conference play at home versus St. John's next weekend.