Big First Inning Not Enough as Wildcats Fall to West Virginia 12-8
March 28, 2009
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - One day after shutting down one of the top offensive teams in the nation, Villanova (12-11, 1-4 Big East) was unable to repeat the task as West Virginia (17-6, 4-1 Big East) rallied for a 12-8 win on Saturday afternoon at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth to even this weekend's series at one game apiece.
The Wildcats scored six runs in the bottom of the first inning to lead 6-1 but the Mountaineers eventually retook a one-run lead in the top of the sixth inning before pulling away in the late innings. Villanova actually outhit West Virginia, 14-11, but the team's bullpen issued nine walks in 5 2/3 innings and the Mountaineers scored twice in the sixth, three times in the seventh and twice in the ninth.
Redshirt freshman David Koczirka (Thornton, Pa.) continues to impress at the plate and had three hits for the second straight day. He hit his first collegiate home run to provide the big hit of the first inning, a three-run shot with two outs that capped the six-run frame. The Wildcats scored four of their six runs in the inning and six of their eight in the game with two outs.
Jedd Gyorko hit a go-ahead two-run home run in the top of the sixth inning. He and Vince Belnome each drove in three runs and West Virginia received hits from the first eight batters in its lineup. Austin Markel scored four runs in the game as the Mountaineers bounced back from scoring just one run against Villanova pitching in the series opener on Friday.
Despite allowing 12 runs, the Wildcats did what they could to prevent any real big innings. West Virginia left 16 runners on base, including the bases loaded in the second and seventh innings. All four Villanova relief pitchers in the game entered with runners on base, and combined to strand five of six inherited runners.
Starting pitcher Kevin Crimmel (Harrisburg, Pa.) pitched 3 1/3 innings and left with a 6-5 lead and runners at second and third with one out in the top of the fourth. Freshman Kyle McMyne (Old Forge, Pa.) came in to get a strikeout and groundout to escape the inning. He pitched three innings with four strikeouts and just two hits allowed, though one of those was the home run by Gyorko in the sixth.
In the top of the seventh inning, Belnome hit a two-run double with the bases loaded and one out and Tobias Streich followed with a sacrifice fly to make the score 10-6. Joe Agreste hit a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning and another run scored on an error, runs that proved important when the Wildcats loaded the bases in the ninth inning and plated two runs before finally making the last out.
The top eight hitters in the Villanova lineup all had a hit and a run scored as the Wildcats matched the offensive potency of their visitors. Redshirt freshman Matt Szczur (Erma, N.J.), junior Justin Bencsko (Pompton Plains, N.J.) and sophomore Dain Hall (Barrington, Ill.) formed a strong top three in the batting order for Villanova, as each player had two hits and scored a run. Senior Matt McFolling (Chicago, Ill.) delivered a two-run single in the big first inning and classmate Kyle Carver (Aldan, Pa.) added a two-run single in the bottom of the ninth to close the scoring.
Neither starting pitcher got out of the fourth inning and Andy Altemus (1-0, 4.37 ERA) earned the win for the Mountaineers with 5 2/3 innings of effective relief. He scattered six hits and allowed just the two runs in the ninth inning, while walking none and striking out five. West Virginia starter Jonathan Jones withstood the six-run first inning to go 3 1/3 with eight hits and six earned runs allowed. He walked four and struck out three in his start, which included more pitches thrown in the first inning (51) than in the rest of his outing combined (39).
Crimmel allowed seven hits in his outing and four of the five runs on his account were earned. He walked one and struck out three and left with a lead for the second straight start. McMyne (1-2, 8.53) was on the short end of the decision for the Wildcats.
The rubber game of the series will be played on Sunday at 12:15 p.m.
NOTES: McFolling's two-run single in the first inning extended his hitting streak to 15 games ... He and Szczur each now have a 15-game hitting streak this season ... Szczur walked and scored in the first inning ... He has reached base safely in the first inning 10 times this season and wound up scoring six times ... Villanova averages 7.9 runs per game when Szczur reaches base safely in the first inning, compared with 5.5 runs per game when he does not.