April 15, 2004
BETHLEHEM, PA. - On Thursday, April 15th at Goodman Field in Bethlehem, Pa., the Villanova baseball team blanked Lehigh, 3-0, as sophomore starter Ted Aust and three Wildcat relievers combined on an eight-hit shutout. With the win, the `Cats improved to 19-12-1 overall on the season. The Mountain Hawks fell to 18-16 on the year with Thursday afternoon's loss.
The Villanova offense could not find the big hit early on in the game as the `Cats left runners in scoring position in four of the first five innings.
On the other side of the field, Wildcat right-hander Ted Aust was keeping the Mountain Hawk hitters off balance through the first five innings of his first collegiate start. Aust allowed leadoff doubles by Lehigh in the fourth and fifth innings, but pitched his way out of jams in both innings.
In the top of the sixth inning, the Villanova offense awoke. Third baseman Angelo Petracca led the inning off with a bunt single down the third base line. Lehigh reliever Chris O'Brien tried to sneak a curveball on the inner half of the plate to Wildcat rightfielder Alan Day, but the pitch stayed too far inside hitting Day to give the Wildcats runners at first and second with no outs. Villanova took its first lead one batter later when leftfielder Brian Newbold lined a single up the middle scoring Petracca to give the `Cats a 1-0 lead. After a bunt single by first baseman Adrian Schau loaded the bases, designated hitter Danny Poydenis came to the plate with the chance to increase the Wildcats' lead. Poydenis grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, but Day scored on the play to extend the Villanova advantage to 2-0. The Wildcats would score once more in the inning on an RBI single by catcher Kelly Pickel to take a 3-0 lead.
Aust ran into a bit of trouble in the bottom of the sixth inning allowing back-to-back singles by the Mountain Hawks to begin the frame. Villanova right-hander Mike Grodecki came on in relief of Aust, and put the Lehigh rally attempt to rest. Grodecki struck out the first two batters he faced and got leftfielder Jeff Baker to ground out to second end the inning.
The `Cats looked to add to their lead in the top of the seventh. With Day on first base and one out, Newbold got a hold of a Joel Hockman fastball. The Newbold blast appeared headed well over the head of David Moscow in centerfield, but Moscow sprinted to the wall and stretched out for a run-saving catch. Throwing off his back foot, Moscow hit second baseman Jesse Novalis with the cutoff throw, and Novalis threw out Day at first with the relay completing the double play.
Villanova left-hander Mike Ciccotelli followed Grodecki's two scoreless innings with a shutout inning of his own in the bottom of the eighth. Ciccotelli fanned two of the three batters he faced, as the senior sent Lehigh down in order.
With the Wildcats holding a 3-0 lead, Schau came into the game to start the bottom of the ninth inning looking to notch his fifth save of the year. After a bloop single to start the inning, Schau took control. With two outs and a runner on second, he struck out pinch hitter Eric Hoffman looking to end the game and send the `Cats home with the three-run victory.
Aust earned the win on the mound for the Wildcats to improve to 3-0. In five shutout innings, he allowed six hits and one walk, while striking out three. Schau got the save for Villanova in the game - his fifth of the season.
Taking the loss for the Mountain Hawks was O'Brien, who allowed three runs on four hits in three and two-thirds innings.
At the plate for the Wildcats, Newbold went one-for-four with the game-winning RBI. In addition, Petracca was two-for-four with a run scored and Pickel was one-for-three with an RBI.
Villanova will get back into action this weekend, hosting West Virginia for a three-game Big East Conference series. The Wildcats will get Alumni weekend started with a Saturday doubleheader against the Mountaineers at noon at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth. The two teams will wind down the series with a single game on Sunday at noon.