March 31, 2012
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Sophomore starting pitcher Pat Young (The Woodlands, Texas) pitched into the ninth inning and allowed just five hits and one earned run as Villanova (15-13, 2-3 BIG EAST) evened this weekend's series against No. 15 Louisville (19-8, 4-1 BIG EAST) at one game apiece with a 5-2 victory at Jim Patterson Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Young (4-3, 3.60 ERA) stayed away from trouble against the top offensive team in the BIG EAST by throwing first-pitch strikes to 25 of the 34 batters he faced. He threw nearly two-thirds of his pitches for strikes overall and while he was in the game the Cardinals had a mere five at bats with runners in scoring position. Louisville went 1-for-5 in those changes against Young and 2-for-15 (.133) with runners on base while Young was in the game.
In the bottom of the ninth inning Young hit Zak Wasserman with a pitch and the Wildcats turned to senior Julian Diaz (Trenton, N.J.) to close out the game. Diaz allowed a single to the first batter he faced and the Cardinals had runners at the corners with nobody out in the bottom of the ninth before Diaz easily retired the next three hitters to earn his first save of the season.
One day after Villanova managed just one hit in a 12-1 loss on Friday night the Wildcats offense appeared to be back in its usual form in Saturday's contest. Villanova had 10 hits and eight of the nine batters in the Wildcats starting lineup reached base safely at least once.
Senior third baseman Kevin Wager (Holden, Mo.) went 3-for-5 with two runs scored in the victory and senior left fielder Matt Fleishman (East Northport, N.Y.) added two hits with one run scored and one run batted in. Junior designated hitter Steve Schrenk (Brigantine, N.J.) also had a good day with a single, two walks, two runs scored and a sacrifice fly.
Villanova scored single runs in the top of the second and third innings to take a 2-0 lead and then pulled away from a 2-1 advantage with three runs in the top of the fifth. Louisville scored the final run of the game on a two-out single in the bottom of the eighth inning but Young struck out his namesake Ty Young to end the inning with the lead still comfortably intact.
Typical offense for the Wildcats led to the first run of the game after Schrenk drew a leadoff walk to start the top of the second inning. Following the walk three consecutive batters all laid down successful bunts. Senior catcher Adam Nelson (St. Joseph, Mo.) bunted for a single and freshman first baseman Brandon Carr (Danville, Calif.) sacrificed the runners up to second and third base. Junior center fielder Paul Rambaud (Chicago, Ill.) then executed a successful safety squeeze and bunted for a single which brought in Schrenk and gave Villanova a 1-0 lead.
In the top of the third inning the Wildcats loaded the bases with nobody out when Wager and Fleishman led off with back-to-back singles and sophomore right fielder Connor Jones (Chandler, Ariz.) was safe at first when a sacrifice bunt was misplayed. Cardinals starting pitcher Jeff Thompson (5-1, 4.35 ERA) struck out junior second baseman Tyler Sciacca (Staten Island, N.Y.) to give himself a chance to get out of the inning but Schrenk followed with a sacrifice fly to center that allowed Wager to score.
Wager and Fleishman hit back-to-back triples on the first two pitches that Thompson threw in the top of the fifth inning. Wager opened the inning with a triple to right-center field and Fleishman hit the very next pitch for an RBI triple to right. Thompson retired the next two batters but Schrenk walked to extend the inning, Nelson reached on an error which allowed Fleishman to score and Carr delivered an RBI single to bring in the final Villanova run.
The base hit by Carr chased Thompson, who allowed eight hits and five runs (two earned) in 4 2/3 innings, while walking two and striking out five. Two relievers for Louisville combined to pitch the final 4 1 /3 innings and allow just two additional hits.
Young retired six of the first seven batters he faced through the first two innings and then made big pitches to preserve the Wildcats lead in the bottom of the third and fourth innings. In the bottom of the third Cameron O'Brien was a third base with one out but Young induced a ground ball to third base and Wager threw O'Brien out at the plate on a fielder's choice. In the bottom of the fourth inning Jeff Gardner reached third with one out and Zach Lucas drove him in with a groundout to short for the second out before Young got another groundout to end the inning.
Saturday afternoon's win by Villanova sets up a deciding game in the series on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. when junior righty Stephen Ostapeck (Sacramento, Calif.) takes the hill for the Wildcats.
NOTES: Villanova won for only the second time in 11 tries at Jim Patterson Stadium and snapped an eight-game losing streak against the Cardinals ... Since Louisville joined the BIG EAST Conference in 2006 the Wildcats are 3-16 against the Cardinals ... The last win was a 3-1 triumph in Louisville on April 20, 2008 and the first victory was by a 1-0 score at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth on March 24, 2007 ... Sciacca singled in the seventh inning to extend his hitting streak to 15 straight games ... He is batting .508 (31-61) during the streak ... Fleishman moved into a tie for second place in school history in triples with his 11th triple in a Villanova uniform ... Young generated 13 groundball outs in the game ... Prior to today's loss the Cardinals had won eight consecutive home games and had also been 13-3 at home against BIG EAST opponents since the start of last season.