March 25, 2006
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - A two-run rally in the bottom of the sixth inning gave the Wildcats their first lead of the weekend, but St. John's (12-7, 2-0 Big East) plated single runs in the seventh and eighth innings to go on to a 3-2 win over Villanova (10-10, 0-2 BE) on Saturday afternoon at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth.
Red Storm relief pitcher Rich Armento (1-1, 0.52 ERA) entered the game with one out in the bottom of the seventh and recorded the final eight outs to earn his first win of the season. Armento allowed just a leadoff single in the eighth inning, and seven of the eight outs he recorded were strikeouts.
The Wildcats were limited to just five hits on the day, but sophomore Derek Shunk (Yardley, Pa.) had a sacrifice fly and junior Frank Cirone (Arlington Heights, Ill.) delivered a run-scoring single in the sixth inning to give Villanova a 2-1 lead.
The advantage was short-lived, however, as St. John's came back to first tie the game and then take the lead. Sam DeLuca had an RBI single in the seventh inning and Jeff Grantham reached on a bunt single on a squeeze play in the eighth that accounted for the eventual winning run. DeLuca had two hits on the day and Grantham drove in two runs, while Anthony Smith had three hits and scored two runs.
For the second straight day, the Wildcats were held in check in the early innings before getting their runs during the middle of the game. On Friday it was a three-run seventh inning that got Villanova back into the game, while today Villanova struck in the sixth. St. John's starter Scott Barnes retired the first 11 batters he faced and had allowed just one hit and a walk in the first five innings.
That changed when senior Kris Molloy (Hillsborough, N.J.) singled to lead off the sixth inning. Sophomore Ryan Arcadia (Upper Saddle River, N.J.) laid down a sacrifice bunt and was safe at first on an error, and senior Craig Mirsky (Holland, Pa.) bunted for another single that loaded the bases. Shunk then hit his sacrifice fly and, one out later, Cirone singled home the second run.
Wildcat starter Mike Loree (Gillette, N.J.) struck out six and walked just one in 7.1 innings. He scattered 11 hits and allowed three earned runs, but also escaped several potential jams. For the game, the Red Storm left 12 runners on base and were just 2-for-12 (.167) with runners in scoring position. Loree (2-3, 3.51 ERA) exited with one out in the eight, and sophomore Gus Guida (Martinsville, N.J.) recorded the final five outs of the game.
The teams will play at Noon on Sunday in the final game of the three-game series.
NOTES: In four appearances on the mound this season, Guida has pitched 5.2 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit in 18 at-bats (.056 opponents' batting average) ... He is also the team's usual starting third baseman ... Through the first two games of the series, the Wildcats are batting .111 (4-for-36) through the first five innings of the game and .308 (8-for-26) in the final four innings.