May 1, 2012
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - In the first start of his collegiate career freshman left-hander Josh Harris (Streamwood, Ill.) carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning and eventually he and two relievers pitched the seventh one-hitter in school history as Villanova (26-20) cruised to a 13-1 victory over Temple (16-28) at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth on Tuesday afternoon. The win was the sixth in the last seven games for the Wildcats, who scored four times in the bottom of the first inning and never looked back on a day when offense came from every spot in the batting order.
Harris (1-1, 5.09 ERA) and freshman relievers Jeff Courter (Maple Glen, Pa.) and JB Kole (Basking Ridge, N.J.) were the story, however, as they produced the second combined one-hitter for the Villanova pitching staff this season. Harris did not allow a hit until there was one out in the seventh inning and was in complete control of the game in his 6 2/3 innings of work. He walked three and struck out three while throwing better than 60 percent of his pitches for strikes, allowing only an unearned run that scored on a double play in the top of the third inning.
Although he didn't overpower the Owls batters Harris did finish his outing by striking out three of the last four batters that he faced. Courter relieved him with a runner at second and two outs in the seventh inning after Henry Knabe struck out. Courter and Kole combined to retire the final seven batters of the game in order to finish off the one-hit effort.
From start to finish the Wildcats rolled behind an offense that put up 13 hits while also drawing seven walks and being hit by a pitch three times. In the bottom of the first inning Temple starting pitcher Brant Norlander (2-4, 7.86 ERA) walked the first three Villanova batters of the game and was in immediate trouble with the bases loaded and nobody out. He nearly escaped the jam but with two outs in the inning and the game still scoreless he issued a fourth walk to sophomore right fielder Connor Jones (Chandler, Ariz.) to force in a run. Senior catcher Adam Nelson (St. Joseph, Mo.) followed with a two-run double and Jones scored on a wild pitch to give the Wildcats a 4-0 lead.
Villanova went on to score three more runs in the bottom of the third inning and really broke the game open with six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to close the scoring. Jones had three runs scored and three runs batted in for the game while going 1-for-2 with two walks, Nelson finished 3-for-4 with two RBI and junior second baseman Tyler Sciacca (Staten Island, N.Y.) had two hits and three runs scored.
As much offense as there was in the game the double by Nelson in the bottom of the first inning was the only extra-base hit of the entire contest. It didn't matter, as the combination of the free passes being issued by the Owls pitching plus the steady stream of Wildcats hits allowed Villanova to open up its preferred style of offense. Sciacca, Jones and Nelson all had stolen bases in the game and both Nelson and Sciacca bunted for base hits to move runners around the bases.
Norlander went the first three innings for Temple and allowed seven earned runs on five hits and five walks before three relievers went the rest of the way. Dan Wasson came into the game with one out in the sixth inning and wound up pitching 2 2/3 scoreless innings while stranding two of three inherited runners.
The only time there was a chance for Harris to get into trouble came in the top of the third inning when he walked David Hall and Foster Dunigan to start the inning. Steve Nikorak followed with a sacrifice bunt and was safe at first himself when the ball was misplayed, loading the bases with nobody out in what was then a 4-0 game. Harris got Nick Lustrino to ground into a 6-4-3 double play though, and despite Hall scoring the only Owls run the double play began a stretch in which Harris retired 10 straight batters.
He struck out Taylor Juran to start the seventh inning and then Jabair Khan hit an 0-1 pitch straight back through the box for a single up the middle, ending a no-hit bid which bore resemblance to a midweek game exactly four weeks earlier in which three Villanova pitchers took a no-hitter against Lafayette into the ninth inning of an eventual 2-1, walk-off victory.
Senior third baseman Kevin Wager (Holden, Mo.) had two hits and two runs scored for the Wildcats and junior left fielder Steve Schrenk (Brigantine, N.J.) had two hits, including a two-run single during the big sixth inning. Senior shortstop Marlon Calbi (Montclair, N.J.) reached base twice via a walk and a hit by pitch to extend his streak of reaching base safely to 22 consecutive games.
Villanova continues to play its best baseball of the season and today's game against Temple kicked off an eight-game home stand over the next two weeks. Coming up this weekend the Wildcats host Notre Dame in a three-game BIG EAST series, beginning with the opener on Friday at 3:45 p.m.
NOTES: Villanova has thrown seven one-hitters since it began playing varsity baseball in 1866 ... Four of those seven games, in fact the four most recent, have been combined efforts on the mound ... The one-hitter earlier this season was thrown by Tyler Radtke, Matt Lengel and Julian Diaz ... The first two one-hitters for the Wildcats both came in 1968 and that is the only previous season with two one-hitters in a year ... A total of 14 pitchers have been involved in the seven one-hit games ... The 22-game streak of reaching base safely for Calbi matches senior designated hitter Matt Fleishman (East Northport, N.Y.) for the longest on the team this season ... Calbi owns a .417 on-base percentage during the streak ... Villanova has 34 bunt singles this season and Nelson leads the team with nine such hits.