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Late Rally Costs Wildcats in 9-5 Loss to Pittsburgh in Nightcap of Doubleheader

April 9, 2011

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PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Pitching close to home and in front of a large cheering section junior left-handed pitcher Kyle Helisek (Cranberry Township, Pa.) carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning for Villanova (13-17, 2-6 Big East) before Pittsburgh (18-11, 5-3 Big East) rallied for a 9-5 win in the second game of a doubleheader at Charles L. Cost Field on Saturday evening. Earlier in the day the Panthers claimed a 15-6 win in the opening game of the twin-bill.

Seven of the nine runs for Pittsburgh scored in the bottom of the seventh inning to erase what had been a 3-0 deficit, although the frame might have turned out differently were it not for two close calls that went against Helisek while the Wildcats still owned the lead. Both close calls involved potential third strikes but the Panthers to eventually send 13 men to the plate.

Helisek (0-4, 5.17 ERA) went 6 2/3 innings and was charged with three hits, three walks and four runs in a start that was far better than those numbers would indicate. Leading off the bottom of the seventh inning he went to a full count on John Schultz, who checked his swing and appeared to go around on the payoff pitch. He was determined to have held the swing, however, and was awarded first base.

Villanova still led 3-2 with one out and a runner on first base when Anthony DeFabio foul tipped a two-strike pitch which was initially juggled and then firmly caught by junior catcher Adam Nelson (St. Joseph, Mo.). The pitch was ruled a foul ball because the ball hit Nelson's chest protector, however, and DeFabio grounded into a fielder's choice on the next pitch for the second out of the inning. The next six batters all reached consecutively against Helisek and two Wildcats relievers, with the tying and go-ahead runs scoring after Helisek left the game.



Senior third baseman David Koczirka (Thornton, Pa.) hit his second home run in the last three games in the top of the third inning to put Villanova in front 2-0 and junior first baseman Kevin Wager (Fairfax, Va.) had an RBI double in the fourth inning to make the score 3-0.

In the top of the eighth inning the Wildcats did their best to answer the outburst by Pittsburgh and get back in the game. Junior shortstop Marlon Calbi (Montclair, N.J.) extended his career-best hitting streak to 10 games with a one-out single and junior right fielder Matt Fleishman (East Northport, N.Y.) doubled with two outs to put two runners in scoring position. Junior designated hitter Andrew Geenen (Portola Valley, Calif.) followed with a bouncing two-run single up the middle to plate both runners and bring the potential tying run to the plate.

Starting pitcher Matt Iannazzo (3-2, 2.74 ERA) allowed five earned runs on nine hits in eight innings pitched for the Panthers and preserved the lead that was handed to him by getting Wager to fly out to right field to end the top of the eighth inning.

Pittsburgh tacked on a pair of unearned runs with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Fleishman and Wager finished the game with two hits apiece for Villanova, which had nine hits in the game and saw each of the top eight hitters in the lineup reach base safely at least once.

Leading the Panthers with two hits and three RBI was Kevan Smith, while Casey Roche and Philip Konieczny also had multi-hit games.

The teams wrap up this weekend's three-game series on Sunday at Noon.

NOTES: Calbi is batting .405 (17-for-42) during his 10-game hitting streak ... He is the only Wildcat hitter with a hit streak that reached double digits so far this season ... Fleishman has reached base safely via a hit or a walk in 26 consecutive games and is batting .429 (9-for-21) with five RBI in his last five games.


Click on the link below to see a video clip from the second game of Saturday's doubleheader. The clip includes the head coaches exchanging lineup cards at home plate before first pitch, the first pitch in the game from both starting pitchers and Villanova starting pitcher Kyle Helisek getting a nice ovation from his hometown fans upon leaving the game. Helisek carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning and was outstanding for 6 2/3 innings. He is from Cranberry Township, Pa., nearby to Pittsburgh.

Video Clip