Harris Pitches Wildcats Past Northeastern, 8-3, in Series Opener
March 21, 2014
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - Eight different starters had at least one hit and the Villanova (7-12) offense produced runs in five of the team's eight times at bat in an 8-3 win over Northeastern (7-10) at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth on Friday afternoon. Junior starting pitcher Josh Harris (Streamwood, Ill.) pitched seven strong innings as the Wildcats opened a three-game series with a well-played victory.
The first five hitters in the Villanova batting order combined to reach base 13 times in 24 plate appearances while scoring six runs and driving in four. Those five hitters were a collective 7-for-15 with three walks, three hit by pitch, two sacrifice bunts and one sacrifice fly. Sophomore left fielder Adam Goss (Bellaire, Texas) and sophomore third baseman Kevin Jewitt (West Chester, Pa.) each scored two runs at the top of the lineup.
After the Huskies scored the game's first run on a wild pitch in the top of the first inning, the Wildcats got two runs in their first trip to the plate to go on top by a 2-1 margin after one inning. Villanova never let go of the lead and also scored runs in each of the other innings (sixth, eighth) that Northeastern put a tally on the board.
Harris (2-4, 4.79 ERA) took care of the rest, going a season-high seven innings and striking out five while allowing two earned runs on six hits and three walks. He finished the game as strong as he started it and retired five of the final six batters he faced.
In the top of the sixth inning the Huskies loaded the bases with one out against Harris on a hit batter, a walk and a single right after the Wildcats had scored twice in their half of the fifth inning to extend their lead to 4-1. Harris stayed out of any serious trouble by getting Pat Madigan to hit a first-pitch sacrifice fly to left for the second out, while Josh Treff struck out swinging to end the threat. Northeastern then went down quietly in the top of the seventh as Harris worked around a soft one-out single up the middle.
Villanova got a run back in the bottom of the sixth inning to restore a three-run lead at 5-2 and then added two more runs in the bottom of the seventh to all but put the game out of reach. After the Huskies got three straight hits and scored a run against senior reliever Matt Meurer (Katy, Texas) to start the eighth inning, Meurer recovered to set down the final six batters of the game in order.
Goss was hit by the very first pitch in the bottom of the first inning and Jewitt followed with a bunt single. With the bases loaded and nobody out after a walk to sophomore first baseman Max Beermann (Tampa, Fla.), Goss scored and both Jewitt and Beermann moved up a base on a passed ball which tied the score at 1-1. Senior center fielder Connor Jones (Chandler, Ariz.) followed with an RBI groundout to give the Wildcats the lead.
In the bottom of the fifth inning Jewitt was hit by a pitch with one out and Beermann, Jones and freshman second baseman Todd Czinege (Overland Park, Kan.) all singled to eventually manufacture two runs. Jones was 1-for-4 with a walk, run and two RBI in the game and Czinege finished 2-for-2 with an RBI, a walk and a sacrifice bunt.
Another run scored on three straight one-out singles in the bottom of the sixth inning. Jewitt was the last in that line of three hits and drove in sophomore catcher Emmanuel Morris (Willowbrook, Ill.) who singled and advanced to second on a hit by Goss.
Freshman right fielder Donovan May (Newark, Del.) and sophomore shortstop Eric Lowe (Arlington Heights, Ill.) had back-to-back RBI singles in the home half of the seventh and Beermann closed the scoring for the day with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Nick Berger (1-2, 4.72 ERA) started for Northeastern and allowed four runs (three earned) in five innings of work. He allowed five hits, walked two and struck out five.
The second game of the three-game series is slated for a 1:15 p.m. start on Saturday afternoon. Junior right-hander Max Almonte (Long Beach, N.Y.) will oppose fellow righty Chris Carmain.
NOTES: Villanova has scored in the first inning in five of its seven wins on the season, compared with going scoreless in the opening inning in all 12 losses ... Berger is only the second opposing starting pitcher to get the loss against the Wildcats this season ... Opposing starters had taken a no-decision against Villanova in 11 of the first 18 games of the year ... Czinege registered his team-best 10th multi-hit game of the season ... Goss and Beermann have each reached base safely in nine consecutive games ... The bullpen has a 2.57 ERA spanning 28.0 innings over the past six games.