Wildcats Allow Late Rally, Fall to St. John's 9-6 in Series Opener
April 4, 2014
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - In the BIG EAST opener for both teams Villanova (8-18, 0-1 BIG EAST) twice jumped out to a lead but was the ultimately the victim of a late rally as St. John's (17-11, 1-0 BIG EAST) won for the 14th time in its last 15 games with a 7-5 victory at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth on Friday afternoon. Sophomore first baseman Max Beermann (Tampa, Fla.) had three hits, including a home run, to extend the torrid pace that he has been on of late.
In the bottom of the fifth inning the Wildcats scored four runs in a span of nine pitches and took a 5-2 lead, which it held until the top of the eighth inning when the Red Storm rallied with five runs to pull ahead. St. John's tenuously held onto that advantage for the final two innings to land the first punch in this weekend's three-game series.
Senior center fielder Connor Jones (Chandler, Ariz.) smoked a two-run triple to right field with one out in the fifth inning which plated sophomore shortstop Eric Lowe (Arlington Heights, Ill.) and sophomore catcher Emmanuel Morris (Willowbrook, Ill.), who had walked and singled to start the inning, respectively. They moved up on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore left fielder Adam Goss (Bellaire, Texas) and then Jones hit a 3-2 pitch into the right field corner for his fifth triple of the season.
The two runs that scored on Jones' triple forged a 3-2 lead for Villanova, although the inning proved to be far from over. Freshman second baseman Todd Czinege (Overland Park, Kan.) worked a 2-2 count and then hit a sacrifice fly which drove in Jones to extend the margin to 4-2. Beermann then drove a 1-1 pitch into the wind and it traveled far over the left-center field fence to cap the big inning.
Junior starting pitcher Josh Harris (Streamwood, Ill.) was on cruise control through the first seven innings. He surrendered a two-run homer to Michael Donadio in the top of the fourth inning but went out to the mound to start the eighth inning having suffered no other damage.
Robert Wayman led off the eighth inning with a single on a shot through the right side that was too hard to be handled by the defense. Matt Harris walked to bring the tying run to the plate and the Red Storm eventually batted around in the inning while scoring five times. Jarred Mederos greeted junior reliever Kagan Richardson (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) with an RBI single which trimmed the Wildcats lead to 5-3 and two batters later Tyler Sanchez hit a three-run double to left field which gave St. John's a 6-5 lead. Robbie Knightes then lined a single back up the middle against senior left-hander Matt Meurer (Katy, Texas) to round out the inning.
Earlier in the game Villanova had gone in front by a 1-0 margin in the bottom of the second inning when it used all of its situational hitting skills to manufacture a run. Beermann singled up the middle to start the inning, sophomore third baseman Kevin Jewitt (West Chester, Pa.) laid down a sacrifice bunt and freshman designated hitter Brian Trabulsi (Malverne, N.Y.) plunked a single into right field which advanced Beermann to third. That brought up freshman right fielder Donovan May (Newark, Del.), who grounded out to second to drive in the first run of the game.
Harris wound up being charged with four earned runs on seven hits in seven-plus innings of work. He walked just two and struck out four, with two of the runs on his account scoring after he had left the game. Richardson (0-1, 3.93 ERA) registered one out during the eighth inning rally and took the loss.
Red Storm starting pitcher James Lomangino gave up five earned runs on six hits in the first six innings of the game, while walking two and striking out six. Shawn Heide (3-0, 5.28 ERA) pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings of relief and Joe Kuzia recorded four outs to earn his fourth save of the year.
The teams meet for game two of the series at 1:15 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
NOTES: The temperature was 50 degrees at first pitch and dropped throughout the game, which was played in a misty rain in damp conditions that made the day feel much colder than the already below average temperatures ... The hits by Beermann extended his career-long hitting streak to 11 games and his streak of reaching base safely to 16 contests ... Beermann is batting .386 (17-for-44) during the hitting streak and has reached base at a .468 clip during the on-base streak ... Jones leads the BIG EAST with five triples this season ... Knightes went 4-for-4 to lead St. John's offensively.