May 9, 2014
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - Sophomore first baseman Max Beermann (Tampa, Fla.) punctuated a three-hit day with a long home run in the bottom of the eighth inning and Villanova (14-30) had a good day both at the plate and on the mound to defeat Manhattan (13-30), 4-2, at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth on Friday afternoon. Junior starting pitcher Josh Harris (Streamwood, Ill.) gave up just one run over six innings to earn his fourth win of the season and the Wildcats landed the first blow in the opener of a three-game series against the Jaspers this weekend.
Harris (4-7, 6.30 ERA) struck out a career-high eight batters for the second straight start and stranded the bases loaded in the top of the sixth inning to preserve a 1-1 tie right after Villanova had gotten on the board for the first time. In the bottom half of the sixth the Wildcats scored two runs to take the lead and senior relievers Chris Haggarty (Valley Cottage, N.Y.) and Matt Meurer (Katy, Texas) handled the final three innings to close out the game.
Manhattan opened the scoring by plating a single run with two outs in the top of the third inning but Villanova manufactured a run with two outs in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game. Freshman right fielder Donovan May (Newark, Del.) singled to right with two outs and nobody on in the fifth inning and wound up going all the way to third base when his hit was mishandled by the Jaspers right fielder for a two-base error. Senior center fielder Connor Jones (Chandler, Ariz.) followed with an RBI triple to right field for his 100th career run batted in.
Harris got into a jam in the sixth inning when Mikey Miranda singled with two outs ahead of consecutive walks to Yoandry Galan and Elias Gonsalve. The two free passes loaded the bases with two down for Manhattan leadoff hitter Jose Carrera, who wound up 3-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored on the day. Harris got Carrera on a fly ball to center to end the inning.
In the home half of the sixth Beermann singled up the middle with one away and sophomore catcher Emmanuel Morris (Willowbrook, Ill.) was hit by a pitch. The runners moved up to second and third on a wild pitch, while a second wild pitch allowed Beermann to score from third. Senior pinch hitter John Cialone (Houston, Texas) then hit an RBI double to deep left-center field to put the Wildcats in front by a 3-1 margin.
Beermann's solo homer in the eighth inning made the score 4-1 and Manhattan could only get as close as the final score in the top of the ninth. Carrera singled and stole second against Haggarty with one out and Brendan Slattery walked with two away before Vin Teixeira singled through the left side to drive in Carrera and put the potential tying runs on base. Meurer entered and struck out Andrew Gorecki on four pitches for the final out of the game.
Jaspers reliever Chris Liquori (0-1, 5.52 ERA) pitched the bottom of the sixth inning and took the loss after allowing two hits and two earned runs. Manhattan starter Joey Rocchietti surrendered one run on four hits over five innings, while walking none and striking out three.
The second game of the series is on Saturday at 1:15 p.m. and Villanova will welcome guests from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeastern Pennsylvania to the game.
NOTES: Jones triple was his seventh of the season and the ninth of his career ... He leads the BIG EAST in triples this season and is now tied for second on the Wildcats single-season list ... His nine triples also moved him up to a tie for fifth place on the Villanova career list ... He extended his streak of reaching base safely to 13 straight games and now has a .500 on-base percentage during the streak ... Harris' eight strikeouts at Georgetown in his previous start were a new career high, while today's total matched that performance.