April 6, 2013
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - All nine batters in the starting lineup reached base safely at least once and the offense broke out with 12 hits but the turning point in the game was a grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning as Villanova (8-21, 0-5 BIG EAST) was defeated, 11-8, by No. 20 Notre Dame (19-9, 4-4 BIG EAST) at Frank Eck Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Freshman first baseman Max Beermann (Tampa, Fla.) and junior catcher John Cialone (Houston, Texas) each hit home runs for the Wildcats in the loss.
Villanova knocked around Fighting Irish starting pitcher Adam Norton (7-0, 1.72 ERA) for 10 hits and six runs in the first six innings. That run total was just two fewer than Norton had allowed in his first seven starts combined this season. Last year at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth the Wildcats had been shut out by Norton, who pitched a five-hitter.
Notre Dame had a 3-0 lead after the first two innings but the Wildcats put six runs on the board from the fourth through the sixth innings and took the lead on two separate occasions. Villanova led 6-4 after plating two runs in the top of the sixth inning but the Fighting Irish came back with five runs in the bottom half of the inning and maintained their lead for the final three innings.
Senior left fielder Steve Schrenk (Brigantine, N.J.) led the Wildcats with three hits, while Cialone and freshman shortstop Eric Lowe (Arlington Heights, Ill.) had two hits apiece. Villanova had runners on base in every inning except the seventh and eighth.
Beermann led off the top of the fourth inning with a long home run just to the right of straightaway center field to get the Wildcats on the board and cut the Notre Dame lead to 3-1. In the top of the fifth inning senior second baseman Tyler Sciacca (Staten Island, N.Y.) and Schrenk both singled to set the table for what eventually became a three-run inning that gave Villanova a 4-3 lead.
Sophomore designated hitter Brandon Carr (Danville, Calif.) reached on a fielder's choice grounder to Norton and everyone was safe on the play when the ball was misplayed. Sciacca scored from second on the play to pull the Wildcats to within 3-2 and two outs later Lowe doubled to right field to drive in the game-tying and go-ahead runs.
Trey Mancini, who would eventually hit the game-winning grand slam one inning later, hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fifth inning to tie the score at 4-4 but Villanova was back at it offensively in the top half of the sixth.
Senior center fielder Paul Rambaud (Chicago, Ill.) bunted for a hit with one out in the top of the sixth inning and the ball rolled down the first base line while staying just inside fair territory the entire time. Sciacca then drew a walk and Schrenk singled to drive in Rambaud and restore the Wildcats lead. A sacrifice fly by Carr drove in Sciacca and made the score a two-run margin.
In the bottom of the sixth inning three consecutive one-out singles by Charlie Markson, Forrest Johnson and Frank DeSico loaded the bases with one out against senior starting pitcher Stephen Ostapeck (Sacramento, Calif), who pitched well for 5 1/3 innings. With the bases loaded and one out Villanova turned to junior southpaw Matt Meurer (Katy, Texas) with two left-handed hitters due up.
Meurer got Zak Kutsulis to pop up in the infield for the second out but Fighting Irish leading hitter Eric Jagielo was hit by a pitch to force home a run and make the score 6-5. Mancini then greeted sophomore reliever JB Kole (Basking Ridge, N.J.) by hitting a 1-1 fastball into the wind that was blowing out to left-center field the entire game.
The fourth home run of the year by Mancini gave Notre Dame a 9-6 lead and the Fighting Irish went on to add single runs for insurance in the seventh and eighth innings. Cialone hit a two-run home run with one out in the top of the ninth to close the scoring for the day.
Ostapeck (0-4, 5.56 ERA) wound up being charged with 10 hits and seven earned runs allowed, though he pitched far better than those numbers would indicate. Three of the runs on his account scored after he left the game and Ostapeck was also particularly strong in the third, fourth and fifth innings after Notre Dame took an early lead.
In the bottom of the first inning the Fighting Irish had runners at the corners with one out and Ostapeck induced Mancini into a groundout for the second out of the inning. A run scored on that play before Ostapeck struck out Ryan Bull to end the inning. Lane Richards scored in the bottom of the second inning as the lead runner in a well-executed double steal and Frank DeSico hit an RBI single to give Notre Dame a 3-0 lead.
The teams play the third and final game of the series on Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m.
NOTES: Villanova has hit three home runs in four games this week ... Cialone's two-run shot to left-center field in the top of the ninth inning was his second career home run and the first since he hit a pinch-hit grand slam at Cincinnati as a freshman ... After walking in the sixth inning Sciacca had reached base 10 consecutive times in the series (3-for-3, four walks, three hit by pitch) ... He was retired for the first time when he struck out in the top of the eighth inning ... The Wildcats have 20 hits in the first two games of the series after totaling 18 hits in their previous three conference games.