Six Scoreless Innings from Bullpen Lifts Wildcats Over Seton Hall, 8-4
April 11, 2009
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - Senior Kyle Carver (Aldan, Pa.) and sophomore Mike Francisco (Malvern, Pa.) combined to pitch six scoreless innings out of the bullpen and Villanova (17-16, 3-9 Big East) won the rubber game of a three-game series against Seton Hall (15-14, 6-6 Big East) by an 8-4 score on Saturday afternoon at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth. The Wildcats won the final two games of the series after falling in extra innings in the opener.
After the start of the game was pushed back more than two hours due to heavy rain earlier in the day, the Pirates jumped out to two-run leads with two runs in both the top of the first and top of the third innings. Villanova was quick to answer, however, scoring two of its own in the bottom of the first and then taking the lead for good with four runs in the bottom of the third.
At the top of the order, redshirt freshman Matt Szczur (Erma, N.J.) and senior Joe Rosati (Havertown, Pa.) combined to score five of the team's eight runs to lead the Wildcat charge. Szczur led off the bottom of the first inning with a walk and Rosati was safe at first when an error was made on a sacrifice bunt. Another throwing error on a failed pickoff attempt allowed Szczur to score and senior Joe Cotter (Bryn Mawr, Pa.) drove in Rosati with a single.
In the bottom of the third inning, senior Wes Borden (State College, Pa.) walked with the bases loaded and one out to force in a run and Villanova received run-scoring singles from redshirt freshman David Koczirka (Thornton, Pa.) and freshman Kevin Wager (Chester, Va.). After the inning there was no additional scoring until the bottom of the eighth inning, when Rosati tripled home Wager and scored himself when an error was made on the play.
With the lead in hand, the Wildcats rode the pitching of Carver (1-1, 4.86 ERA) and Francisco (three saves) the rest of the way. Carver allowed three hits over 3 1/3 scoreless innings with a walk and a strikeout, while Francisco struck out five in 2 2/3 innings with a hit and two walks allowed. Seton Hall had runners at second and third with one out in a 6-4 game in the top of the seventh when Francisco entered and escaped the jam with a strikeout and a pop-up into shallow center field. He issued a walk that loaded the bases in between the two outs but never came close to surrendering the lead.
Rosati finished 2-for-4 with three runs and two RBI while Szczur was 1-for-2 with two runs scored and a pair of walks. Cotter and Wager also had two hits apiece for Villanova.
Sophomore Chris Pack (Darien, Ill.) started for the Wildcats and allowed seven hits and four earned runs in three-plus innings. He exited in the top of the fourth with a runner at first and none out but Carver came in and induced a fly out and a groundball double play to end the inning. Villanova turned two double plays in the game and the Pirates stranded 11 runners.
Chris Affinito drove in three of the four Seton Hall runs with a two-run home run in the first inning and a run-scoring double in the third. Sean Gusrang was 3-for-4 and also drove in a run for the Pirates, who committed four errors in the game that led to three unearned runs.
The loss was charged to Charlie Rivera (0-2, 7.11), who allowed four runs (three earned) one just one hit in one-plus innings of work. He walked three and struck out one in relief of starter Joe DiRocco, who allowed two hits and one earned run before leaving after 1 1/3 innings.
Villanova is next in action on Tuesday night at 8 p.m. when it faces Delaware in the championship game of the Liberty Bell Classic at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
NOTES: The Wildcats other double play in the game came thanks to an opportunistic infield on a bunt play in the top of the second inning ... With runners at first and second with nobody out, Wager charged a line drive bunt and made a sliding catch before the ball hit the ground ... He then threw to second baseman Dain Hall (Barrington, Ill.) covering the bag at first to complete the play ... May 10-11 of last season (at Rutgers) was the last time Villanova won a three-game series in which it lost the series opener ... The Wildcats are seeking their fourth Liberty Bell Classic championship and their first since 2005 in Tuesday's game against Delaware ... Villanova defeated Lehigh in the 2005 championship game for its last title.