April 30, 2004
PLYMOUTH MEETING, PA. - On Friday, April 30th in a Big East Conference doubleheader at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth, the Villanova baseball team dropped two games to the University of Pittsburgh, falling 14-2 in game one and losing an extra inning heartbreaker 11-9 in 11 innings in game two. With the day's two losses, the Wildcats fell to 24-18-1 overall on the year and 6-13 in Big East play. The Panthers improved to 28-11 overall and 12-4 in conference action.
Pittsburgh jumped all over the `Cats early in game one, scoring four times in the top of the first inning off of starter Nick Allen to claim a 4-0 lead. Rightfielder Peter Parise and catcher Alex Rybczak each had two run singles in the inning for the Panthers.
Villanova would trim the Pittsburgh lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the third inning. Second baseman Mark Cardillo and centerfielder Kris Molloy each reached on singles in the inning for the Wildcats, and both came around to score on wild pitches by Panther starter Nick Evangelista.
That's as close as the `Cats would get as the Pittsburgh offense erupted in the fourth inning. The Panthers scored five runs in the inning to break the game open, 9-2. Designated hitter P.J. Hiser got the scoring started with a two-run double. After an RBI single by first baseman Tom Cashman that made the score 7-2, Rybczak posted his second two-run single of the contest to extend their lead to 9-2.
Pittsburgh would go on to score three more runs in the fifth inning, one in the sixth and one in the seven to cruise to the 14-2 win.
Evangelista (6-1) earned the win on the mound for the Panthers, striking out nine and giving up just two runs in seven innings. Allen (3-4) took the loss for the Wildcats, allowing eight runs (seven earned) on 10 hits in 3.2 innings, striking out two and walking three.
At the plate for Villanova, Cardillo went one-for-two with a run scored and Molloy went one-for-three with a run scored.
For Pittsburgh, Rybczak was two-for-four with five RBI, and Parise went two-for-four with three runs scored and two RBI
Starters Andrew Kuss of Pittsburgh and Mike Loree of Villanova dominated the early stages of the game combining for seven strikeouts over the first two innings.
In the top of the third inning, Hiser blasted a three-run home run off of Loree to give the Panthers the game's first lead at 3-0. The home run was Hiser's 15th of the season - leading the Big East.
One inning later, Pittsburgh added two more runs to increase its advantage to 5-0. Third baseman Mike Scanzano had an RBI double for the Panthers in the inning, while Bryan Spamer added an RBI single.
The Wildcats would rally in the middle innings, scoring twice in the fifth, twice in the sixth and once in the seventh to tie the game up at 5-5. Petracca had one RBI in each of the fifth and sixth innings. Down 5-4 in the top of the seventh, leftfielder Brian Newbold blasted a solo home run to right-centerfield to tie the game at five.
Just when the Wildcats rallied, however, Pittsburgh pulled ahead again at 8-5 with a three-spot in the top of the eighth inning. Copeland had the big blow in the eighth for the Panthers, registering a two-run double.
Villanova trimmed the Pitt lead to 8-6 with one run in the bottom of the eighth inning, coming on an RBI single by first baseman Adrian Schau.
Pittsburgh got that run back in the top of the ninth inning. Rybczak tripled to right-centerfield and scored on a throwing error to push the Panther lead back up to 9-6.
The Wildcats used some late game heroics to stage their second big rally of the contest. Villanova loaded the bases in the ninth when Molloy lined a three-run double into the right centerfield gap to tie the game at 9-9. With a runner at third and one out, Hiser came on in relief and intentionally walked Petracca and Schau to load the bases. The strategy worked, as Hiser struck out Newbold for the second out of the inning and got Alan Day to fly out to leftfield for the final out.
The game remained 9-9 until the top of the 11th inning. With two outs in the innings, Tony Marciante sent a slow roller to second for what would seemingly be the final out of the inning. A fielding error on the groundball extended the inning and came back to haunt the Wildcats. Copeland tripled to knock in Marciante with the go-ahead run and Spamer added an RBI single to give Pittsburgh a 11-9 lead.
With two outs and a runner on first in the bottom of the 11th inning, Hiser got Newbold to foul out to first base to end the game and give the Panthers the 11-9 win.
Hiser (5-0) got the win with three scoreless innings of relief. Schau (1-2) took the loss, allowing two unearned runs.
At the plate for the Wildcats, Molloy went two-for-five with two doubles and four RBI and Trotta went three-for-four with two doubles and three runs scored.
For Pittsburgh, Copeland and Spamer each tallied three RBI apiece.
Villanova and Pittsburgh will wind down the series on Saturday, May 1st, with a single game at 3:00 p.m. The Wildcats will honor their six seniors with "Senior Day Ceremonies" prior to the game at 2:30 p.m.