Wildcats Fall to USF in Rubber Game of Series, 6-4
April 19, 2009
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - In the final game of a weekend series, Villanova (18-18, 4-11 Big East) allowed two tying runs in the top of the fourth inning and the go-ahead runs in the sixth inning of a 6-4 loss to USF (24-14, 12-3 Big East) on Sunday afternoon at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth. The Bulls won the first and last games of the weekend by identical scores to take the series two games to one.
Freshman Kevin Wager (Chester, Va.) continued his recent hot hitting and got the Wildcats started by chopping a two-run double down the left field line in the bottom of the second inning. Redshirt freshman Matt Szczur (Erma, N.J.) added a run-scoring single later in the inning to spot Villanova a 3-1 lead, but the Wildcats were held in check from then on by USF starter Shawn Sanford (3-2, 5.62 ERA), who pitched into the eighth inning and allowed just one other run that scored on a single in the eighth after he was already out of the game.
Redshirt freshman David Koczirka (Thornton, Pa.) was 3-for-3 in the game, Szczur also had three hits and both players drove in a run as Villanova drew even in the hits column, 11-11, by the end of the game after being outhit 10-3 at one point in the middle innings. Wager finished 2-for-4 with a run and two RBI and senior Joe Cotter (Bryn Mawr, Pa.) had two hits as well. Koczirka, Wager and Szczur combined to bat .515 (17-33) during the series.
Sanford allowed seven hits and four runs (two earned) in 7 1/3 innings while walking three and striking out four. Reliever Joe Cole recorded the final five outs while allowing four hits to pick up his second save of the weekend. In the bottom of the eighth inning, senior Matt McFolling (Chicago, Ill.) singled with one out and classmate West Borden (State College, Pa.) followed by drawing a walk. With two down, Koczirka singled home a run and Wager reached on an infield hit to load the bases before a strikeout ended the frame.
The Wildcats also made some noise in the bottom of the ninth inning, as Szczur led off with a single and Cotter singled with one out. Cole worked out of potentially big trouble when he needed to, though, striking out pinch hitter Kyle Carver (Aldan, Pa.) to end the eighth and retiring McFolling and Borden in order to end the game.
Much earlier in the day, the Bulls went down in order in both the second and fifth innings but otherwise kept steady pressure on Villanova right-hander Chris Pack (Darien, Ill.). Three straight one-out singles in the top of the first inning led to the game's first run before Pack (3-4, 5.03) escaped the inning by retiring the next two batters.
In the top of the fourth inning, Trey Manz led off with a double and Mike Consolmagno and Ryan Lockwood eventually delivered RBI singles to tie the game at 3-3. Pack eventually stranded the bases loaded thanks to an infield fly and a fly ball to center. Lockwood's bloop single that landed just behind the first base bag tied the game at 3-3.
The three-run rally by USF in the sixth inning also began with a double - this one by Sam Mende - and Pack was out of the game after a walk to Mike Consolmagno followed the leadoff double. Peter Brotons hit an RBI single against reliever Kyle Helisek (Cranberry Township, Pa.) and two other runs scored on a fielder's choice and later a double by Todd Brazeal.
Pack allowed eight hits and five earned runs in five-plus innings, with two walks and two strikeouts. Two of the runs against his account came in to score after he had left the game. Sophomore Mike Francisco (Malvern, Pa.) and freshman Kyle McMyne (Old Forge, Pa.) pitched scoreless relief over the final 2 1/3 innings to keep Villanova within striking distance at the end of the game.
Brazeal had two hits and two RBI for the Bulls while Mende and Brotons had two hits apiece.
The Wildcats return to action this Tuesday at Temple for a 3 p.m. first pitch. Villanova defeated the Owls 14-10 last month in the first round of the Liberty Bell Classic.