March 23, 2012
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - In the BIG EAST opener for both teams on Friday afternoon a close and well-played contest was decided by a three-run fifth inning and Villanova (13-10, 0-1 BIG EAST) was defeated by St. John's (12-9, 1-0 BIG EAST) at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth in the opener of a three-game series. The schedule for the remainder of the series has been changed to feature a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 12:15 p.m., with the twin-bill replacing the scheduled game on Sunday afternoon.
In this afternoon's opener the Wildcats took an early lead but the Red Storm went ahead for the first time, and for good, with the rally in the top of the fifth inning which gave St. John's a 5-3 edge. Both teams would then go cold offensively for the next three innings and Villanova was unable to come any closer than the two-run deficit.
Senior shortstop Marlon Calbi (Montclair, N.J.) was an effective table-setter at the top of the lineup and had two hits while scoring three of the four Wildcats runs. Senior third baseman Kevin Wager (Holden, Mo.) also had two hits and sophomore catcher John Cialone (Houston, Texas) was 3-for-3.
Villanova scored a quick run in the bottom of the first inning when Calbi singled up the middle, stole second and scored on a hit to right-center by Wager to forge an early 1-0 lead. In the bottom of the third inning Calbi was hit by a pitch and went first to third on another single by Wager before scoring when senior left fielder Matt Fleishman (East Northport, N.Y.) grounded into a fielder's choice.
The run that scored in the bottom of the third inning proved to be the first in a string of four consecutive half-innings in which runs were scored. A wild pitch and a sacrifice fly in the top of the fourth inning accounted for the first two Red Storm runs and the score was tied at 2-2 going to the bottom of the fourth.
Junior designated hitter Steve Schrenk (Brigantine, N.J.) led off the home half of the fourth inning with a walk and later in the stanza senior center fielder Jordan Zech (Naples, Fla.) bunted for a single which scored Schrenk and put the Wildcats back in front by a 3-2 score.
St. John's countered again in the top of the fifth inning though, when Jeremy Baltz tied the game with a two-out infield hit and two batters later - following an error that extended the inning - a two-run double down the right field line by Sean O'Hare gave the Red Storm a 5-3 lead.
Despite the outcome Villanova received a strong start from sophomore right-hander Pat Young (The Woodlands, Texas), who allowed three earned runs while striking out five in seven innings pitched. He allowed just one hit while facing two batters over the minimum through the first three innings then bounced back from the rocky fifth inning to pitch two more scoreless frames. Young (3-3, 4.22 ERA) wound up allowing eight hits and five runs, of which only three were earned.
St. John's starting pitcher Matt Carasiti (2-2, 4.88 ERA) allowed 10 hits and three earned runs over 5 2/3 innings but made big pitches when it counted. In the bottom of the sixth inning he allowed a leadoff double to Cialone followed by a single to senior first baseman Adam Nelson (St. Joseph, Mo.) which gave the Wildcats runners at the corners and nobody out. Carasiti eventually got two outs in the inning without a run scoring and reliever Stephen Rivera got Fleishman to pop up with the bases loaded and two outs to end the inning.
Baltz and Matt Wessinger each had two hits and two runs scored for the Red Storm, who put the game out of reach in the top of the ninth inning on a Wessinger three-run home run to left field.
In the doubleheader on Saturday afternoon the scheduled starters for Villanova are freshman Tyler Radtke (Buffalo Grove, Ill.) and junior Stephen Ostapeck (Sacramento, Calif.), both right-handers. St. John's is expected to counter with lefty Sean Hagan in the first game of the doubleheader and righty Kyle Hansen in the nightcap.