April 26, 2011
AMBLER, Pa. - In order to snap a nine-game losing streak Villanova (14-24) was literally pushed to the limits in a 9-8 victory over Temple (21-17) at Skip Wilson Field, as the Wildcats first gave up a seven-run lead and then were down to their last out before a two-run home run by junior right fielder Matt Fleishman (East Northport, N.Y.) saved the day on Tuesday afternoon. Villanova won a road game that it trailed going to the ninth inning for the first time in 11 years.
The only two runs that Villanova scored after taking a 7-0 lead in the fourth inning were the two that scored on Fleishman's fifth home run of the season, which came with the Wildcats trailing 8-7 in the top of the ninth inning with one runner on and two outs. Junior shortstop Marlon Calbi (Montclair, N.J.) singled with one out and Fleishman provided the final heroics of the day after a strikeout for the second out of the inning.
Fleishman was just one of six Villanova hitters with multi-hit games and the Wildcats racked up 16 hits on the day, ironically matching their highest hit total since their most recent victory three weeks earlier. Villanova pounced on the Owls for four runs in the top of the first inning, added two more in the second and then plated one run in the third to built a seven-run cushion.
It figured that Temple, one of the top hitting teams in the nation this season, would get back into the contest and the Owls made their move with two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and five more in the home half of the seventh to tie the score at 7-7. A single run crossed the plate with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning as Temple briefly took the lead before the Wildcats struck the final blow.
Fleishman had two hits, two runs scored and the two RBI while Calbi was 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Senior first baseman David Koczirka (Thornton, Pa.) and freshman second baseman Michael Erb (Camarillo, Calif.) each had two hits and two runs batted in and junior center fielder Jordan Zech (Naples, Fla.) finished 3-for-4 with a run scored.
Senior closer Mike Francisco (Newtown Square, Pa.) entered with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning and the potential go-ahead run in scoring position at second base. He gave up a single which advanced the runner to third and then the Owls squeezed home the runner from third to take the lead. Francisco (1-2, 2.01 ERA) went on to retire the final four batters of the game, however, emerging with his first win of the season as Villanova won for the 11th time in Francisco's 17 appearances on the year.
Through the first five innings the Wildcats got a strong start from freshman Max Almonte (Long Beach, N.Y.), who scattered six hits and two runs over five innings while walking two and striking out four. He stayed out of trouble through the first four frames to protect a big lead and wound being scored on only via a two-run single from Adrian Perez in the bottom of the fifth.
Perez had two hits and wound up driving in five runs for Temple while Steve Nikorak added a two-run double during the Owls big seventh inning rally.
Villanova touched up Temple starting pitcher Zach Batchelor for 11 hits and seven earned runs through three-plus innings but he was followed by a trio of Owls relievers who did not allow a run for five innings.
In the ninth inning, Zach White (0-1, 16.20 ERA) got Koczirka to fly out for the first out and then gave up a single through the left side to Calbi. With freshman pinch hitter Tyler Reich (Ocean City, N.J.) at the plate, Calbi stole second and took third on a throwing error by the catcher to put the tying run just 90 feet away. Reich eventually struck out swinging but Fleishman drove an 0-and-1 pitch over the fence in left-center field.
Tomorrow afternoon the Wildcats are back in action when they finally play Delaware in the championship game of the Liberty Bell Classic at Citizens Bank Park. Game time is scheduled for 3 p.m. at the home of the Philadelphia Phillies, where two previously scheduled games between Villanova and the Blue Hens were rained out earlier this month.
NOTES: It had been more than a decade since the Wildcats last won a road game that they trailed going to the ninth inning ... Villanova defeated St. John's 9-8 at Shea Stadium in the second game of a doubleheader on May 7, 2000, overcoming an 8-5 deficit going to the top of the ninth ... The last time the Wildcats won any game that they trailed after eight inning came at home last season in a 2-1 win over Niagara on March 19, 2010 ... The Wildcats had been winless since a 9-7 win over La Salle in the semifinals of the Liberty Bell Classic back on April 6 ... Today's game marked the eighth time this season that Villanova had 12 or more hits in a game ... All nine starters in the lineup for the Wildcats had at least one hit by the fourth inning ... Sophomore left fielder Steve Schrenk (Brigantine, N.J.) and senior designated hitter Dain Hall (Barrington, Ill.) both had run-scoring singles in the first inning and Erb had a two-run single in the frame ... In the second Schrenk hit a sacrifice fly and Koczirka doubled home a run ... He (Koczirka) also had an RBI single in the fourth inning ... Hall finished the day 2-for-4 with a run scored, an RBI, a walk and two stolen bases ... He played in his 194th career game and moved into sole possession of seventh place on the Villanova career games played list ... He also currently ranks fifth in stolen bases, sixth in walks and seventh in at-bats ... The nine-game losing streak was the Wildcats longest since a 10-game string back in 2003 ... Sophomore right-hander Kevin MacLachlan (Matawan, N.J.) draws the start for Villanova tomorrow in the Liberty Bell Classic championship.