April 13, 2013
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - Senior starting pitcher Stephen Ostapeck (Sacramento, Calif.) continues to look strong on the mound and he had perhaps his best start of the season on Saturday afternoon, registering a career-high nine strikeouts and allowing just one earned run in 7 1/3 innings despite a 4-1 loss for Villanova (9-24, 1-7 BIG EAST) against Connecticut (21-13, 7-4 BIG EAST) at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth.
Ostapeck was the victim of two unearned runs in the top of the second inning which gave the Huskies a 2-1 lead, a deficit that the Wildcats could never overcome despite having runners on base in every inning except the bottom of the second. Ostapeck pitched into the eighth inning and retired 15 of the final 21 batters he faced beginning with the start of the third inning. He showed how overpowering he could be after a leadoff double in the top of the sixth inning, when he struck out the next two batters to prevent Connecticut from adding to what was still a one-run lead at that point.
In the top of the eighth inning a leadoff single by Tom Verdi and a sacrifice bunt by Billy Ferriter gave the Huskies a runner in scoring position and Ostapeck left a one-run game having allowed just six hits and, to that point, no earned runs while walking one and striking out nine. Connecticut strung together three straight singles after Ostapeck left the game however, adding two insurance runs to its account and making the Villanova task of rallying that much more difficult.
Junior catcher John Cialone (Houston, Texas) had an RBI infield single in the bottom of the first inning which gave the Wildcats an early 1-0 lead. Cialone moved up to second on a throwing error on the play and Villanova had runners at second and third with one out, but a strikeout and a fly ball to center stranded both runners. Through the first two games of the series the Wildcats have stranded 22 men on base.
Despite putting up just one run the Villanova offense continued to put runners on base. Senior center fielder Paul Rambaud (Chicago, Ill.) was 3-for-5 with a run scored and freshman designated hitter Emmanuel Morris (Willowbrook, Ill.) had two hits to record his first career multi-hit game.
Huskies starting pitcher Anthony Marzi (3-4, 3.73 ERA) allowed seven hits and one earned run over seven innings of work. He walked one and struck out 12, including back-to-back strikeouts in the bottom of the seventh inning after singles by Morris and senior pinch hitter Brandon Clark (Spring, Texas) gave the Wildcats runners at the corners with only one out.
Jordan Tabakman pitched a scoreless ninth inning for Connecticut and survived a walk to sophomore pinch hitter Brandon Carr (Danville, Calif.), a double down the left field line by Rambaud and hitting senior second baseman Tyler Sciacca (Staten Island, N.Y.) with a pitch to earn his fourth save of the season.
The three-game series wraps up on Sunday afternoon, with first pitch at 12:15 p.m.
NOTES: Sciacca doubled in the bottom of the first inning and added to his team lead with his 11th double of the season ... It was also the 39th double of his career and that ties him for 10th place in Villanova history ... He is tied with Bob McCreary (1986-89) and Rick Welsh (1995-98), two doubles behind Dave Pizzini (1998-01) and current assistant coach Derek Shunk (2005-08) in the Wildcats record book ... Cialone matched a career high by throwing out two would-be base stealers ... He also caught two runners stealing against Iona in 2011 and versus Georgetown in 2012 ... Cialone also extended his hitting streak to a season-high six games ... Ostapeck's previous strikeout high was six, against both St. Peter's (2011) and St. John's (2012) ... Sciacca is 9-for-18 (.500) with six walks, six hit by pitch and a .677 on-base percentage in the last six games.