April 2, 2013
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Senior catcher Brandon Clark (Spring, Texas) hit his first career home run and junior reliever Chris Haggarty (Valley Cottage, N.Y.) registered the final seven outs for his first career save as Villanova (7-19) held off Penn (16-9), 5-4, in the semifinals of the Liberty Bell Classic at Meiklejohn Stadium on Tuesday afternoon. The win clinches a spot in the championship game for the Wildcats, who will face Delaware at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday, April 16.
Clark hit a solo home run in the top of the second inning and Villanova scored three more times in the top of the third inning to build a 4-0 lead. The host Quakers chipped away at the deficit with two runs in the bottom of the third inning and single runs in the seventh and eighth innings, but the Wildcats never relinquished the lead. Haggarty stranded the potential tying run at second base in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Senior shortstop Tyler Sciacca (Staten Island, N.Y.), sophomore designated hitter Brandon Carr (Danville, Calif.) and freshman first baseman Max Beermann (Tampa, Fla.) all had two hits for Villanova, which outhit Penn by a 9-7 margin. The decisive run in the game came in the top of the sixth inning when Carr and Beermann each singled and junior right fielder Connor Jones (Chandler, Ariz.) hustled to beat a relay throw to first base on a fielder's choice, allowing an insurance run to score from third base.
In the early innings junior starting pitcher Matt Meurer (Katy, Texas) was in complete control and allowed just two hits over four innings before reaching a predetermined pitch count. Meurer (2-5, 7.04 ERA) walked one and struck out two to earn the victory. Sophomore reliever JB Kole (Basking Ridge, N.J.) struck out four and allowed just one unearned run over 2 2/3 innings of relief before Haggarty came in with runners at first and second in a 5-3 game in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Haggarty induced a groundball to get out of the seventh inning and allowed a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth which proved to be the final run of the game.
This is the third time in the last five years that Villanova has reached the Liberty Bell Classic championship game. Two years ago the Wildcats defeated Delaware, 7-6, to claim their fourth outright tournament title. The same two teams also split the championship back in 2009 when the game was rained out with the score tied 6-6 in the top of the fifth inning.
Villanova returns to action on Wednesday afternoon with a home game against La Salle. First pitch is scheduled for 3:15 p.m.