Wildcats Rally Twice, Edge Manhattan 7-6
March 20, 2011
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - Sophomore left fielder Steve Schrenk (Brigantine, N.J.) delivered a pinch-hit, two-run double in the bottom of the seventh inning to help Villanova (9-10) complete its second comeback of the day and senior closer Mike Francisco (Newtown Square, Pa.) tied the school's all-time saves record with his 17th career save in a 7-6 victory over Manhattan (5-11) in the Big Five Baseball Bash at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth on Sunday afternoon.
After a strong pitching matchup in the early innings the Jaspers took advantage of back-to-back throwing errors by Wildcats pitchers in the top of the sixth inning to score three unearned runs that stretched a 2-1 lead for Manhattan into a 5-1 margin.
As quickly as the deficit had ballooned on Villanova the team's offense came alive just as fast in the bottom of the sixth inning, when the Wildcats broke out with five hits and scored four runs to tie the game at 5-5. It was the first time all day that Villanova drew even with the Jaspers, who scored twice in the top of the first inning and held a 2-1 lead from the second inning until the sixth.
The sixth and seventh innings became a back-and-forth affair as Manhattan responded to the game being tied with a lone run in the top of the seventh inning to retake the lead at 6-5. The last blow belonged to the Wildcats, however, as the team rallied to take the lead after there were two outs and nobody in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Junior right fielder Matt Fleishman (East Northport, N.Y.) beat out an infield hit to shortstop, freshman first baseman Tyler Reich (Ocean City, N.J.) drew a walk and first-year catcher John Cialone (Houston, Texas) did the same to load the bases. Schrenk then came up as a pinch hitter and lined an 0-and-1 pitch down the right field line for a two-base hit.
In the top of the eighth inning, junior reliever Julian Diaz (Trenton, N.J.) came in with runners at first and second and nobody out with the game still tied. On the very first pitch he threw to Anthony Vega, Diaz (1-1, 10.38 ERA) induced a double play groundball to second to immediately put aside any thoughts of the Jaspers having another big inning. Austin Sheffield moved from second to third on the play, though, and came in to score one batter later on an RBI single by Nick Camastro.
Diaz went on to escape the jam and pitch a 1-2-3 eighth inning to earn his first win of the year and set up Francisco, who notched his third save during Villanova's current four-game winning streak and sixth of the season. Francisco needed only 12 pitches to pitch a perfect ninth inning with a pair of called third strikes, and his 17th career save ties him with James Russell (2000-03) for the Wildcats all-time record.
Villanova finished the game with 12 hits, with Fleishman going 3-for-4 with three runs scored and three RBI. He hit a solo home run in the bottom of the second inning to get the Wildcats on the board and then delivered a two-run single during the game-tying rally in the bottom of the sixth inning. Junior center fielder Jordan Zech (Naples, Fla.) also had two hits and two RBI for Villanova, while junior designated hitter Andrew Geenen (Portola Valley, Calif.) and sophomore left fielder Paul Rambaud (Chicago, Ill.) had two hits apiece.
Freshman starting pitcher Max Almonte (Long Beach, N.Y.) pitched effectively for five-plus innings after giving up two earned runs in the top of the first. He didn't allow another runner into scoring position until the sixth and wound up with one walk and four strikeouts on the day.
Peter Cappiello (0-2, 7.71 ERA) was on the losing end of the decision for Manhattan after being charged with the two runs that scored on Schrenk's hit in the bottom of the seventh inning. Starting pitcher Eric Luksis allowed seven hits and five runs (two earned) over the first 5 2/3 innings.
Villanova has a pair of midweek road games this coming Tuesday and Wednesday against La Salle and Penn, respectively. Tuesday's game against the Explorers begins at 3:15 p.m. at Hank DeVincent Field.