April 19, 2003
PLYMOUTH MEETING, PA. - In the second game of a Saturday Big East doubleheader versus St. John's on April 19th, at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth, the Villanova baseball team got an outstanding performance from sophomore left-hander James Baxter on the mound and a five-hit, four RBI effort from senior centerfielder Chris Graziano to help power the Wildcats to a 10-5 victory. The `Cats ended a 10-game losing skid with their game two victory and improved their season record to 8-24 overall and 3-13 in conference play. The Red Storm fell to 19-18 overall and 8-6 in the Big East with the loss.
With the game still scoreless in the bottom of the second inning, the Villanova offense awoke with three runs off of St. John's starter Criag Hansen to take an early 3-0 lead. Rightfielder Alan Day scored the game's first run on a throwing error by Hansen. The Wildcats added to their lead later in the inning on an RBI double by Graziano, and capped off the inning on a sac fly to center by third baseman Danny Poydenis.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Villanova scored one more run to increase its advantage to 4-0. Catcher Greg Fater walked to lead off the inning, went to second on a second on a sacrifice by Mark Cardillo and advanced to third on a wild pitch. One batter later, Graziano lined a single up the middle to score Fater and make it a 4-0 ballgame.
The Red Storm finally got on the scoreboard in the fifth inning. Rightfielder Greg Thomson singled to right with one out and came around to score on a double off the left-field wall by catcher Marc Wagner. Wagner's RBI double cut the Wildcat lead to 4-1.
Not satisfied with its 4-1 advantage, the Villanova offense erupted for six runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a commanding 10-1 lead. With runners on first and third and one out, shortstop Brian Trotta laid down an attempted suicide squeeze. Third baseman Jim Martin fielded the ball but threw it over the head of the catcher, Wagner, allowing Adrian Schau to score, Day to go to third and Trotta to go to second. The next batter, Fater, bunted the ball to third where Martin fielded it and threw a strike to the plate. A hustling Day knocked the ball out of the grasp of pitcher Greg Holmes to score the Wildcats' sixth run of the contest. On a heads up baserunning play, Trotta saw the ball go to the backstop and was able to come around to score on the error by Holmes to make it a 7-1 game. After Cardillo was hit by a pitch. Graziano doubled down the left field line to score two runners and increase the Villanova lead to 9-1. The Wildcats would add another run later in the inning on a RBI single by leftfielder Brian Newbold to take a 10-1 advantage.
St. John's loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the sixth inning. Baxter then walked the next batter, Thomson, to score Mike Rozema and trim the margin to 10-2. Baxter got out of the jam, however, getting Wagner to line out to third for the final out of the inning.
In the top of the seventh inning, the Red Storm already scored twice when Adrian Schau came on for reliever Mike Ciccotelli for the Wildcats. St. John's designated hitter Blake Hershelmen hit a sacrifice fly to center in the first at-bat off of Schau to cut the Villanova lead down even further to 10-5. With the bases loaded and one out, Schau struck out Thomson and got Wagner to ground out to third to end the scoring threat and preserve the Wildcats' five-run lead.
Schau dominated the final two innings on the mound for the `Cats, striking out four of the final six batters to help Villanova to the 10-5 victory. Schau earned his first save of the season, striking out five in three innings. Baxter (2-1) got the win for the `Cats, allowing just two runs on four hits in six innings, striking out seven and walking three.
Hansen (1-2) took the loss for St. John's, giving up four runs (two earned) on five hits in 3.1 innings, striking out three and walking two.
Graziano was the offensive force behind the Villanova win going five-for-five with two doubles, two stolen bases, one run scored and a career-high four RBI. With his two stolen bases, he now has 99 thefts for his career placing him just one shy of the century mark. Day and Newbold each added two hits for the Wildcats.
Villanova will get back into action on Tuesday, April 22, hosting the Temple Owls at 3:00 p.m.