March 27, 2012
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - In the quarterfinal round of the Liberty Bell Classic on Tuesday afternoon Villanova (14-12) fell behind 7-0 in the first four innings at Meiklejohn Stadium and lost by a final score of 11-4 to Penn (8-9), which advanced to the semifinals of the local tournament. The four runs scored by the Wildcats came in three consecutive times at bat from the fifth through the seventh innings.
A three-run home run down the left field line in the bottom of the first inning gave the Quakers an early lead and they extended the margin with a pair of unearned runs in both the second and the fourth innings. Villanova got on the board with two runs in the top of the fifth inning to cut the deficit to 7-2 but Penn got three more runs of its own in the bottom half of the frame to thwart any chances of a Wildcats rally.
Senior shortstop Marlon Calbi (Montclair, N.J.) delivered a two-run single in the top of the fifth inning to plate the first two Villanova runs, while junior designated hitter Steve Schrenk (Brigantine, N.J.) and senior left fielder Matt Fleishman (East Northport, N.Y.) had RBIs for the Wildcats, who managed just six hits against Quakers pitching for the second time in the last week.
Penn did most of its early damage against sophomore starting pitcher Max Almonte (Long Beach, N.Y.), who pitched the first three innings and was charged with five hits and five runs (three earned) while walking one and striking out three. With one out in the bottom of the first inning Almonte (1-2, 7.54 ERA) allowed a three-run home run to Greg Zebrack on a ball that stayed just inside the left field foul pole.
There were two outs and nobody on in the top of the fifth inning before Villanova eventually struck for two runs. Senior first baseman Adam Nelson (St. Joseph, Mo.) reached base safely when a ball that he hit to first base was misplayed and senior center fielder Jordan Zech (Naples, Fla.) followed with a double to extend the inning. Calbi was up next and dropped a 1-and-0 pitch into right-center field to drive in both runners.
In the bottom of the fifth inning the Quakers loaded the bases with nobody out and eventually plated three runs to extend their lead to a 10-2 advantage. Following that frame the Wildcats began to get on track from a pitching standpoint with scoreless innings thrown by freshman JB Kole (Basking Ridge, N.J.) and junior Matt Longfield (Miami, Fla.) but Villanova still manufactured no rallies bigger than the single runs it scored in the sixth and seventh innings.
Junior second baseman Tyler Sciacca (Staten Island, N.Y.) doubled and tripled in his four times up to extend his hitting streak to 13 games and increase his BIG EAST leading batting average to .451, while also notching his 17th multi-hit game in 26 outings this season.
Zebrack went 3-for-3 and drove in seven of the 11 runs for Penn while coming up just a single short of hitting for the cycle. The first four hitters in the batting order, including Zebrack in the cleanup spot, scored two runs apiece.
This coming weekend the Wildcats return to BIG EAST play when they visit Louisville for a three-game series, with the first game coming up on Friday night at 6 p.m.