Wildcats Edged By Xavier, 10-9, in Series Opener
April 11, 2014
CINCINNATI, Ohio - Both teams raced out of the gates at a frenetic pace offensively in the early innings but when the pitching took over the game Villanova (10-20, 2-2 BIG EAST) came up a run short in a 10-9 loss to Xavier (18-14, 4-0 BIG EAST) at Hayden Field on Friday afternoon. All nine hitters in the starting lineup reached base safely for the Wildcats, who tied a season high with 12 walks.
Sophomore left fielder Adam Goss (Bellaire, Texas) and freshman second baseman Todd Czinege (Overland Park, Kan.) each walked three times and scored two runs, while sophomore first baseman Max Beermann (Tampa, Fla.) extended his hitting streak with two hits and three runs batted in. Villanova finished the day with eight hits but stranded 13 runners on base, including seven in scoring position.
All but one of the runs in the game was scored in the opening three innings. Each team put six runs on the board in their half of the second inning and neither starting pitcher made it out of that inning. After both sides added a single run in the third inning the only run the rest of the way came on a leadoff solo homer by Czinege in the top half of the fifth.
Senior reliever Chris Haggarty (Valley Cottage, N.Y.) was terrific in long relief for the Wildcats and produced the best single game performance of his career. Haggarty had a career-high seven strikeouts and also pitched a career high 5.1 innings while allowing just one run on three hits. He put together a stretch from the third inning through the seventh in which he retired 14 of 16 batters, with six of the outs coming on strikeouts.
Villanova took an early 1-0 lead when senior center fielder Connor Jones (Chandler, Ariz.) hit a ground-rule double with one out in the first inning and came around to score on Beermann's run-scoring single with two outs.
It took only five pitches for the Musketeers to draw even, as Dan Rizzie led off the bottom of the first inning with a home run down the left field line. Later in the inning Vinny Nittoli and Brian Bruening hit consecutive RBI doubles to lift Xavier into a 3-1 lead.
By the time the second inning was completed the game was over an hour old. In the top of the inning the Wildcats sent 11 men to the plate, while the Musketeers countered by having 10 men bat in their half of the inning.
Freshman right fielder Donovan May (Newark, Del.) and sophomore shortstop Eric Lowe (Arlington Heights, Ill.) drew consecutive walks to open the top of the second against Xavier starter Adam Hall, who retired just four of the 15 batters he faced. Freshman designated hitter Brian Trabulsi (Malverne, N.Y.) laid down a sacrifice bunt and was safe when a throwing error was committed on the play. The error allowed May to score from second, while Trabulsi and Lowe wound up at second and third, respectively.
Goss walked to load the bases and Hall then struck out Jones for the first out of the inning. The next five batters all drove in runs however, as Villanova went in front by a 7-3 margin. Czinege walked to force in a run, Beermann and sophomore third baseman Kevin Jewitt (West Chester, Pa.) hit back-to-back RBI singles and sophomore catcher Emmanuel Morris (Willowbrook, Ill.) walked to force in another run. May then batted for the second time in the inning and hit a sacrifice fly to right which accounted for the final run of the frame.
Relief pitcher Eric Stiene (2-1, 2.61 ERA) replaced Hall after the bases loaded walk to Morris in the second inning. He logged 4 2/3 innings and surrendered two hits and four walks while limiting the Wildcats to just two additional runs. Beermann reached on an error with one out in the third inning which allowed a run to score and Czinege hit his second home run of the season leading off the fifth. Xavier closer Brad Kirschner struck out six over 2.2 scoreless innings to earn his fifth save of the season.
A pair of wild pitches by junior starting pitcher Josh Harris (Streamwood, Ill.) in the bottom of the second inning allowed Stephen Schoettmer and Rizzie to score and trim the Villanova lead to 7-5 with one out. Nittoli struck out for the second out of the inning but Bruening hit an RBI single and Andre Jernigan followed with a three-run home run which restored the Musketeers lead at 9-7. The only run Xavier scored the rest of the way came home on Joe Forney's sacrifice fly against Haggarty in the bottom of the third.
Harris (2-5, 6.41 ERA) was charged with nine runs allowed in 1 2/3 innings. Haggarty was followed by junior reliever Matt Lengel (Devon, Pa.), who pitched a scoreless eighth inning.
Junior right-hander Max Almonte (Long Beach, N.Y.) makes the start for the Wildcats on Saturday afternoon in the second game of this weekend's series. He will be opposed by Mukseteers righty Scott Klever, with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m.
NOTES: Villanova scored six runs on just two hits in the top of the second inning ... It was the second time in the last three games that the Wildcats put together a six-run, two-hit inning ... The same sort of inning transpired at home last Sunday versus St. John's, when Villanova did all of the scoring in its 6-5 victory in that one frame ... Beermann now has a 14-game hitting streak during which he is batting .407 (22-for-54) and a 19-game on-base streak in which he has posted a .488 on-base percentage ... Jones (10 games) and Morris (nine games) are also in the midst of career long on-base streaks, while Goss and Jewitt have each reached safely in the last eight contests ... The other time this season that the Wildcats drew 12 walks was against Saint Joseph's on March 7 ... Haggarty's 5.1 innings out of the bullpen was the longest relief appearance for a Villanova pitcher since Kevin MacLachlan went 5.2 innings at West Virginia on April 6, 2012 in a 26-11 victory ... Haggarty's previous career high of six strikeouts was set in a win over Niagara earlier this season on March 9 ... Over his last five appearances Haggarty has allowed just one earned run in 12.1 innings (0.73 ERA) while striking out 12 and yielding only six hits ... Opponents are batting just .146 (6-for-41) against him during this stretch.