Comeback Falls Short as Wildcats Edged By Georgetown, 6-5, in Series Opener
April 13, 2012
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - A promising rally which saw two runs cross the plate in both the seventh and eighth innings stalled in the ninth and Villanova (18-17, 3-7 BIG EAST) was the victim of a 6-5 loss to Georgetown (17-17, 4-6 BIG EAST) in the opener of a three-game series at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth on Friday afternoon. After getting to the brink of erasing a five-run deficit the Wildcats went down in order in the bottom of the ninth inning when the Hoyas closed out the game.
Senior designated hitter Matt Fleishman (East Northport, N.Y.) had two hits and two runs batted in, freshman first baseman Brandon Carr (Danville, Calif.) went 3-for-4 in the game and junior center fielder Paul Rambaud (Chicago, Ill.) tallied his second straight multi-hit contest with two hits and a run scored.
Georgetown had a 6-1 lead midway through the game after scoring three runs in the top of the fifth and pushing across two more runs in the sixth inning. Paul Bello led off the fifth inning with a clean single up the middle and Andy Lentz - the ninth hitter in the Hoyas batting order - followed by getting jammed on a 2-and-2 offering which dropped into very shallow outfield grass just between two Villanova fielders.
The fortunate bounce on the ball hit by Lentz gave Georgetown runners at first and second with nobody out for leadoff hitter Justin Leeson, who laid down a sacrifice bunt and wound up reaching base and getting all the way to third base himself when the bunt was misplayed. Bello and Lentz each scored on the play to stretch a 1-0 lead for the Hoyas to a 3-0 advantage with Leeson at third and still nobody out. Trevor Matern followed with a slowly bouncing grounder between short and third which allowed another run to come home as Georgetown extended its lead to four runs.
In the bottom of the fifth inning the first run of the game for the Wildcats trimmed the deficit to 4-1 but Villanova senior starting pitcher Kyle Helisek (Cranberry Township, Pa.) ran into trouble again in the sixth inning. Danny Poplawski led off with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt before Leeson placed a triple just inside fair territory in the right field corner.
The triple chased Helisek from the game and Matern greeted senior reliever Jerry Battipaglia (Katonah, N.Y.) with a run-scoring single to drive in Leeson with what proved to be the final Georgetown run of the game.
Battipaglia settled very nicely after giving up the single to Leeson and wound up pitching 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to end the game. He allowed just two hits and struck out two to back up Helisek (2-4, 6.23 ERA), who was charged with six runs (four earned) on nine hits while walking one and striking out four in 5 2/3 innings. In reality Helisek pitched better than that final line indicates. He used his breaking ball effectively and was really only done results of the consecutive at-bats by Lentz and Leeson in the fifth inning.
Senior shortstop Marlon Calbi (Montclair, N.J.) singled with one out in the top of the fifth inning and scored with two away on Fleishman's sharp single through the left side. In the home half of the seventh inning Fleishman once again came up big with a run-scoring single and sophomore right fielder Connor Jones (Chandler, Ariz.) scored a run with a groundball out to get the Wildcats back within striking distance, trailing 6-3 heading to the eighth inning.
In the bottom of the eighth inning Villanova had runners at second and third with one out when senior third baseman Kevin Wager (Holden, Mo.) came to the plate. Wager drilled a hard ball directly at Lentz, who knocked the ball down but was unable to field it cleanly. Senior pinch runner Adam Nelson (St. Joseph, Mo.) scored and Rambaud followed him home when Wager got caught in a rundown between first and second base.
Starting pitcher Will Harris (4-2, 3.29 ERA) went six innings for the Hoyas and scattered seven hits while allowing only one run (not earned). Harris walked one and struck out one to earn his second win in conference play this season. Charles Steinman set the Wildcats down in order in the bottom of the ninth for his third save of the season.
Villanova and Georgetown are back at it on Saturday afternoon stating at 1:15 p.m.
NOTES: Senior right fielder Matt Fleishman reached a career milestone with the 200th hit of his collegiate career in the bottom of the seventh inning ... He had 46 of those hits as a freshman while playing for Division II Western New England College ... Calbi drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first inning and extended his streak of games reaching base-safely to11 consecutive contests.