March 20, 2012
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - A back-and-forth game featured runs both early and late as Villanova (13-8) fell by a final score of 5-4 in 10 innings to La Salle (11-8) at Hank DeVincent Field on Tuesday afternoon. Despite scoring with one out in the top of the ninth inning to tie the game the Wildcats succumbed to the final outcome in the bottom of the 10th while playing their third extra-inning game of the season.
Dan Klem singled with the bases loaded and one out in the 10th inning to deliver the winning run for the Explorers, who protected a one-run lead from the end of the third inning until Villanova pulled even with its back to the wall when there was one out in the top of the ninth.
With one out and nobody on in the top of the ninth inning junior center fielder Paul Rambaud (Chicago, Ill.) reached on an infield hit and moved up to second on a wild pitch. Two batters later senior left fielder Matt Fleishman (East Northport, N.Y.) doubled to left field to score Rambaud with the tying run. When junior second baseman Tyler Sciacca (Staten Island, N.Y.) was hit by a pitch the Wildcats had the bases loaded with one out but La Salle closer Pat Christensen registered a strikeout and a fly to center to end the inning and at least preserve the tie.
The lead changed hands three times in the first three innings after Villanova scored a lone run in the top of the first to grab a 1-0 advantage. The Explorers scored twice in the bottom of the second inning to go ahead 2-1, the Wildcats countered with two runs of its own in the top of the third for a 3-2 lead and finally La Salle scored twice more in the bottom of the third inning to go ahead 4-3.
Fleishman hit RBI doubles in the first and ninth innings to plate the first and last Villanova runs. Each time he drove in Rambaud, who went 3-for-4 with two walks and three runs scored at the top of the lineup. The Wildcats continued to roll along offensively with 14 hits on the day and the top five hitters in the batting order were a combined 11-for-21 with four runs scored and three RBI.
Rambaud drew a walk to lead off the game, moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by senior third baseman Kevin Wager (Holden, Mo.) and scored on Fleishman's double down the right field line. He led off again in the third inning and drew another walk ahead of a single to right by Wager. Sciacca singled to drive in Rambaud and senior designated hitter Andrew Geenen (Portola Valley, Calif.) grounded into a fielder's choice which scored Wager and gave Villanova a 3-2 lead.
Sophomore starting pitcher Max Almonte (Long Beach, N.Y.) had a strong start for the second straight outing and went a season-high six innings while allowing only two earned runs. He retired nine of the last 12 batters he faced after the Explorers took a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the third inning and then turned the game over to sophomore left-hander Matt Meurer (Katy, Texas), who allowed just a hit and a hit batter in three scoreless innings of relief from the seventh through the ninth innings.
Both teams received strong bullpen performances but La Salle had the final answer in the home half of the 10th inning. Marc Schoch and Joe Bennie drew consecutive one-out walks against junior lefty Matt Longfield (Miami, Fla.) and Jon Gyles was hit by a pitch from senior reliever Julian Diaz (Trenton, N.J.) ahead of the walk-off single by Klem, who finished the day 3-for-5 with a run and two RBI.
Although the Wildcats played at La Salle on Tuesday the team is in the midst of playing 11 of 13 games at home. The final four games of that stretch begin tomorrow when Villanova hosts Penn at 3:15 p.m.