Johnson Hits First Home Run of Season But Wildcats Fall at Connecticut, 8-2
April 11, 2010
STORRS, Conn. - Starting pitcher Kyle McMyne (Old Forge, Pa.) registered a career-high eight strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings and Chris Johnson (Shrewsbury, N.J.) hit a long two-run home run but Villanova (18-11, 2-7 Big East) was defeated by Connecticut (22-7, 7-2 Big East) by a score of 8-2 in the finale of a three-game series on Sunday afternoon at J.O. Christian Field. The Huskies scored in each inning from the second through the fifth en route to sweeping the three-game series.
McMyne (4-4, 5.54 ERA) showed great resiliency in his eighth start of the season, working around the hits he gave up to avoid any big innings by the Huskies. In the bottom of the second inning, Mike Olt led off with a double and one out later Joe Pavone hit an RBI double and Billy Ferriter followed with a run-scoring single for a 2-0 lead. McMyne struck out two batters in the inning, however, and had at least one punch-out in all five of the frames that he worked.
It was feast or famine for the Connecticut hitters during one stretch that ultimately made the difference in the game. Mike Nemeth hit a solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the third inning, but McMyne struck out Olt to end the frame with no further damage done. In the home half of the fourth, Kevin Vance led off with a solo home run and McMyne promptly recovered to strike out the side.
With the game will in reach at 3-0 following the first three innings, the Wildcats manufactured their first scoring threat of the game in the top of the fourth inning. After there were two outs and nobody on, Justin Bencsko (Pompton Plains, N.J.) dragged a bunt single up the third-base line. It was the second hit of the game for Villanova, which managed just one ball out of the infield through the first 4 2/3 innings against Huskies starter Matt Barnes (6-0, 2.13 ERA). Following the single by Bencsko, Dain Hall (Barrington, Ill.) was hit by a pitch and Johnson walked to load the bases, but Barnes escaped the inning with a strikeout that stranded the bases loaded.
Connecticut stretched its lead to 6-0 before the Wildcats got on the board in the top of the sixth inning. Hall singled with one out and Johnson hit the very next pitch far over the right field fence to pull Villanova to within 6-2. That was as close as the Wildcats would get, however, as Barnes tossed five-hit ball over eight innings to remain undefeated on the season. He walked two and struck out seven.
The final two runs against McMyne came in the bottom of the fifth inning when Pierre LaPage led off with a double and Nick Ahmed drew a walk. The runners were eventually at second and third when LaPage scored on a wild pitch and Ahmed came in to score on a throwing error made on the same play. The errant pitch and throw were nullified when Olt hit a two-out triple that would have scored both runners anyway. McMyne wound up allowing eight hits and six earned runs with two walks and the eight strikeouts over his 4 2/3 innings.
Olt went 3-for-4 to pace the Huskies offensively, while both he and Nemeth scored two runs. Vance went 2-for-4 with a run and two RBI as the designated hitter, and also pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning out of the bullpen.
Jerry Battipaglia (Katonah, N.Y.) worked 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of McMyne and Mike Francisco (Newtown Square, Pa.) pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth inning with a strikeout. Connecticut got its final two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, with just one of those tallies being earned against Chris Pack (Darien, Ill.).
Five different players all had one hit for the Wildcats, who registered just one multi-hit game on the weekend. Tyler Sciacca (Staten Island, N.Y.) bunted for a single with one out in the top of the first inning to extend his hitting streak to five games.
Villanova returns to action at home on Wednesday at 3:45 p.m. against Lafayette.
NOTES: The Wildcats are 2-15 on the road against Connecticut since the 1999 season and have gone 1-17 in road conference games since the start of last season.