April 16, 2011
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - The second game of a doubleheader on Friday afternoon between Villanova (13-20, 2-9 Big East) and Connecticut (20-12-1, 9-2 Big East) began very similar to the opening game, with a tight pitchers' duel through the early and middle innings before the Huskies stretched the margin late. The nightcap at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth eventually saw the Wildcats lose by a 10-0 margin while managing just two hits in the affair.
Junior starting pitcher Kyle Helisek (Cranberry Township, Pa.) was outstanding for the second straight start and raced through the first seven innings allowing just one earned run on six hits while walking one and matching a career-high with seven strikeouts. He allowed a wind-blown home run to Nick Ahmed leading off the top of the fourth inning, while a sacrifice fly that followed a throwing error in the top of the sixth led to an unearned run for Connecticut and a 2-0 lead.
Helisek (0-5, 5.12 ERA) pitched into the eighth inning before running into trouble when a leadoff walk and a sacrifice bunt were followed by three consecutive hits for the Huskies, including an RBI single by Ahmed and a two-run single by Mike Nemeth back up the middle. In 7 1/3 innings, Helisek wound up allowing eight hits and five runs (four earned) while walking two and striking out seven.
Whereas the first game featured two junior right-handed pitchers with power arms in a matchup between Kyle McMyne and Matt Barnes, the second contest of the day pitted a pair of junior finesse left-handers who were each on top of their game.
Helisek was opposed by Greg Nappo (4-2, 2.77 ERA), who allowed just two hits and walked three with six strikeouts in six-plus innings of work. The only hits against him were bunt singles by sophomore left fielder Paul Rambaud (Chicago, Ill.) in the bottom of the fifth inning and senior designated hitter Dain Hall (Barrington, Ill.) in the bottom of the sixth.
Villanova had back-to-back chances to mount a rally in the fifth and sixth innings while the game was still in reach but could not cash in against Nappo, who has thrown 18 career scoreless innings against the Wildcats in three appearances. Junior first baseman Kevin Wager (Fairfax, Va.) drew a leadoff walk to open the home half of the sixth inning and one out later - after the team failed to execute a sacrifice bunt - Rambaud bunted for the first Villanova hit of the day. Nappo eventually struck out the side in the inning, however, and Wager was stranded at second base.
In the sixth inning the Wildcats went from two outs and nobody on to suddenly being on the brink of getting back into the game. Hall bunted for a single and junior right fielder Matt Fleishman (East Northport, N.Y.) walked. Wager then struck out but reached first base easily on a third strike wild pitch as Hall and Fleishman each moved up to third and second, respectively. Nappo escaped the jam with a pop-up in foul territory near first base.
Ahmed had two hits and four runs scored and Nemeth a pair of hits and four RBI for Connecticut, which padded its lead with five unearned runs in the ninth inning that all scored after a fielding error.
The teams played a doubleheader on Friday due to the impending threat of a heavy, soaking rain during much of Saturday afternoon. The third and final game in this weekend's series is likely to be played as scheduled on Sunday starting at 12:15 p.m., although on Saturday morning the teams will evaluate whether or not there is a chance to finish the series a day early. An announcement on the status of the series finale will be made online at Villanova.com as early as possible on Saturday morning.
NOTES: Helisek has allowed just 11 hits over 14.0 innings pitched in his last two starts ... Today's game marked the third time in his career that he has struck out seven batters in a game ... The other occasions came against Lehigh in 2009 and Norfolk State in 2010 ... Fleishman's walk in the sixth inning extended his streak of games reaching base safely to 29 contests in a row ... This game was only the fifth in the streak in which he did not have a hit but instead reached at least once via a walk ... Junior shortstop Marlon Calbi (Montclair, N.J.) went 0-for-2 with a walk to end his hitting streak at 12 games, which is a career-best and the longest on the team this season.