March 31, 2009
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - Senior Wes Borden (State College, Pa.) and redshirt freshman David Koczirka (Thornton, Pa.) drove in four runs apiece and Villanova (13-12) advanced to the second round of the Liberty Bell Classic with a 14-10 victory over Temple (11-12) on Tuesday afternoon at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth. The Wildcats now play a second round game at Lehigh next Tuesday, with the winner advancing to the championship game at Citizens Bank Park.
An offensive outburst featuring 14 hits by both teams was reminiscent of other high-scoring affairs these two teams have played in Plymouth Meeting. For the third time in six years here, the Owls scored five or more runs in the top of the first inning, only to wind up being outslugged by the Villanova offense.
In today's contest, each side plated five runs in a 46-minute first inning that featured a combined 84 pitches by the two teams. Kyle Obal, Jamie Abercrombie and Lenny DelGrippo all had run-scoring hits in the first inning for Temple, which later regained a brief 6-5 lead in the top of the third inning but was otherwise matched and surpassed by the Wildcats.
Senior Matt McFolling (Chicago, Ill.) singled home a run in the bottom of the first inning to get Villanova started during a frame which needed just two hits to provide five runs. Two runs were forced in on bases-loaded walks and another came in on a balk before senior Joe Cotter (Bryn Mawr, Pa.) scored the tying run on a rare straight steal of home plate.
The Wildcats went ahead for the first time with a three-run fourth inning that spotted them a 9-6 lead. McFolling doubled in two more runs and Koczirka drove in a run on a bunt single. The floodgates opened in the bottom of the sixth, when Koczirka smashed a two-run double which was followed by a three-run blast by Borden, who hit his first home run of the year.
Villanova led 14-6 through the end of the sixth inning and hung on as the Owls added three runs in the seventh and one in the ninth. The final outcome marked the sixth time in seven games between the teams at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth in which the winning team has scored at least 10 runs.
McFolling finished 3-for-5 with three runs scored and three RBI, while Cotter and sophomore Dain Hall (Barrington, Ill.) also scored three runs apiece. Redshirt freshman Matt Szczur (Erma, N.J.) had two hits and two runs scored at the top of the order to act as a catalyst for the offense. He has scored in eight of the 12 games in which he has reached base in the first inning.
The offensive output by the Wildcats supported freshman Kyle Helisek (Cranberry Township, Pa.), who rebounded well from a rocky first inning to go six innings and pick up his third win of the year. He was charged with eight hits and six earned runs in the game, though he allowed just one run on three hits over his final five innings of work. Helisek (3-1, 5.68 ERA) walked one and struck out three.
Abercrombie had three hits and drove in two runs for Temple, while DelGrippo and Mark Ortega each drove in three runs. Both teams had every member of their starting lineup reach base safely at least one time.
Temple southpaw Jordan Cannon made his first start of the season after 12 relief appearances and reached his pitch count with just one out in the first inning. He was charged with five earned runs on two hits with four walks and one strikeout while facing seven betters. Tyler Horst (0-2, 8.75) pitched 5 2/3 innings of relief for the Owls and came out on the short end of the decision.
The Liberty Bell Classic is an annual local tournament featuring eight teams from the greater Philadelphia area. In another first round game on Tuesday afternoon, Lehigh defeated La Salle, 7-4, to advance to a second round matchup against the Wildcats. The other semifinal game next week pits Delaware against Saint Joseph's. Villanova's last championship in the tournament came in 2005.
The Wildcats host Coppin State on Wednesday at 3:15 p.m.