March 26, 2013
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Freshman second baseman Adam Goss (Bellaire, Texas) hit a go-ahead, two-run home run in the top of the fifth inning and Villanova (6-16) received 5 1/3 scoreless innings of relief from its bullpen in a 5-3 win over La Salle (7-13) at Hank DeVincent Field on Tuesday afternoon. The victory lifts the Wildcats into the semifinals of the Liberty Bell Classic, where they will face either Lafayette or Penn next Tuesday afternoon.
Villanova scored three runs in the top of the fifth inning to take its first and only lead of the game at 4-3, with Goss' first career home run proving to be the difference in the game. Senior center fielder Paul Rambaud (Chicago, Ill.) drove in an insurance run in the sixth inning and the Wildcats were well on their way towards advancing in the local tournament that they have won on four previous occasions.
Senior reliever Kevin MacLachlan (Matawan, N.J.), a veteran with past success in Liberty Bell contests, pitched 3 2/3 innings to earn his first win of the season and four different relievers combined to keep the Explorers off the scoreboard from the fourth inning on. The win also snapped a four-game losing streak for Villanova, which defeated La Salle for the second time in as many meetings this season.
Four different players had two hits apiece for the Wildcats, who totaled 11 hits for the day and twice rallied from two-run deficits. The scoring started in the bottom of the second inning when the Explorers plated two runs to grab a 2-0 lead. La Salle later had a 3-1 lead after both teams scored one run in the fourth inning but the tables turned in the top of the fifth when sophomore first baseman Brandon Carr (Danville, Calif.) led off with the first of his two hits in the game.
Carr singled to left field to start the fifth inning and freshman shortstop Eric Lowe (Arlington Heights, Ill.) sacrificed him into scoring position. The first run of the inning scored one pitch later when freshman right fielder Nicolas Coutre (Libertyville, Ill.) doubled down the left field line for his first collegiate hit, pulling Villanova to within 3-2 in the process. Goss followed by hitting a 3-1 pitch over the right field fence to give the Wildcats the lead.
Through the first four innings of the game the Explorers had three runs on five hits, but La Salle added just one more hit in the final five innings after Villanova took the lead. MacLachlan (1-1, 9.53 ERA) entered the game with runners at the corners and one out in the bottom of the fourth inning, with the Wildcats trailing 2-1 at the time.
MacLachlan allowed one of the inherited runners to score on an infield hit but prevented the Explorers from turning the inning into a big rally. He left with runners at first and second and nobody out in the bottom of the eighth inning and the final six outs were shared by junior Chris Haggarty (Valley Stream, N.Y.), senior Matt Longfield (Miami, Fla.) and freshman Max Beermann (Tampa, Fla.).
In the bottom of the ninth inning George Smith, Jr. drew a leadoff walk against Longfield and Beermann took over on the mound from first base. He walked the first batter he faced, Brandon Day, to put the potential tying run on base but Dan Klem popped up a bunt attempt and Beermann induced a fly out and a line out to end the game and earn his first career save.
Villanova scored its first run in the top of the fourth inning after there had been two outs and nobody on. Senior left fielder Steve Schrenk (Brigantine, N.J.) doubled to extend the inning, senior catcher Brandon Clark (Spring, Texas) was hit by a pitch and sophomore third baseman B.J. Bochicchio (Moosic, Pa.) lined a single up the middle. Schrenk scored from second on the hit but Clark was thrown out trying to go first and third.
In the top of the fifth inning the Wildcats had the bases loaded and two outs when Rambaud singled to drive in what proved to be the final run of the contest. Villanova did most of the damage against La Salle starter Mark Williams (0-1, 8.31 ERA), who allowed four earned runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings.
Rambaud, Schrenk, Carr and senior designated hitter Tyler Sciacca (Staten Island, N.Y.) each had two hits for the Wildcats, whose 11 hits in the game were just three fewer than the team's total in the entire three-game series against Cornell last weekend. Sciacca, normally the team's starting shortstop, returned to the lineup after missing 10 games with a minor injury.
On the other side of the Villanova bracket in the Liberty Bell Classic are Lafayette and Penn, who play a quarterfinal game at Lafayette on Wednesday afternoon. The other quarterfinal matchups feature Lehigh against Temple and Delaware against Saint Joseph's.
Next up for the Wildcats is the start of conference play. Villanova faces Rutgers in a three-game series beginning on Thursday at 3:15 p.m., while the series continues and concludes with games on Friday at 3:30 p.m. and Saturday at 1:15 p.m.