May 11, 2013
PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Senior shortstop Tyler Sciacca (Staten Island, N.Y.) tied the game with a two-out, two-run single in the top of the ninth inning but Villanova (11-37, 2-17 BIG EAST) lost the game in the bottom of the ninth inning, 4-3, to No. 17 Pittsburgh (38-11, 16-3 BIG EAST) in the first half of a doubleheader at Charles L. Cost Field on Saturday afternoon. An infield single with the bases loaded and nobody out in the bottom of the ninth inning won the game for the Panthers after they blew a three-run lead in the final two innings.
The game was scoreless into the sixth inning but Pittsburgh scored three times in the bottom of the sixth to take a 3-0 lead. Freshman first baseman Max Beermann (Tampa, Fla.) hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the eighth inning but the Wildcats still trailed 3-1 when they came up to bat in the ninth. Villanova has not won a game it trailed after eight innings since a 5-4 win over Buffalo on March 18, 2012 and has not won such a game on the road since rallying past Temple, 9-8, on April 26, 2011.
Freshman third baseman Kevin Jewitt (West Chester, Pa.) and junior right fielder Connor Jones (Chandler, Ariz.) drew consecutive walks to open the ninth inning though, and freshman pinch hitter Eric Lowe (Arlington Heights, Ill.) sacrificed the runners up to second and third with one out. Panthers closer Joe Harvey, who had entered the game with two outs in the top of the eighth, struck out freshman second baseman Adam Goss (Bellaire, Texas) for the second out in the ninth but then hit senior center fielder Paul Rambaud (Chicago, Ill.) to load the bases.
Sciacca came up and took a called strike before lining a single to right field. Jewitt and Jones both scored to tie the game but Sciacca was thrown out trying to take second base on the relay throw to home plate and the inning ended with the score tied at 3-3.
In the bottom of the ninth inning Steven Shelinsky, Jr. walked against senior relief pitcher Kevin MacLachlan (Matawan, N.J.) and stole second to give Pittsburgh an immediate scoring threat. John Peluso singled to right field to advance the winning run to third base and MacLachlan intentionally walked Evan Oswald to load the bases. At that point junior Chris Haggarty (Valley Cottage, N.Y.) came into the game and got a groundball in the infield but it was an infield hit to shortstop for Dylan Wolsonovich which gave the Panthers the walk-off win.
Sciacca had two hits in the game and Rambaud was on base four times with three infield hits to go along with the hit by pitch that extended the Wildcats rally in the top of the ninth inning. Villanova had eight hits and was walked six times by four Pittsburgh pitchers.
Senior starting pitcher Stephen Ostapeck (Sacramento, Calif.) was locked into a terrific pitchers' duel with Panthers right-hander Ethan Mildren for most of the early and middle innings of the game. Ostapeck made his fifth quality start of the season and pitched at least into the seventh inning for the fourth time in his last five starts. He wound up scattering nine hits - all but one of which were singles - and allowed three runs over seven innings, while striking out four and not walking a batter.
MacLachlan (1-3, 8.05 ERA) started the bottom of the eighth inning and retired the side in order to give the Wildcats a chance to rally in the top of the ninth. He came out on the short end of the decision after allowing the first three Panthers batters to reach in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The three-run rally for Pittsburgh in the bottom of the sixth inning started with Wolsonovich singling through the left side to lead off the inning. One out later Elvin Soto doubled to right field after getting down in the count 0-2 and the Panthers eventually plated two runs on a sacrifice fly by Casey Roche and an RBI single to center field by Boo Vazquez. After the inning was extended on a single to left by Sam Parente the third run scored on a single through the left side by Shelinsky, Jr.
Mildren threw seven scoreless innings for Pittsburgh and allowed five hits while walking three and striking out seven. Villanova scored an unearned run against Jonathan Danielczyk in the top of the eighth inning and Harvey (3-1, 4.26 ERA) wound up the winning pitcher even after surrendering two earned runs in 1 1/3 innings.
The second game of the twin-bill was to start around 4:30 p.m. and feature junior right-hander Pat Young (The Woodlands, Texas) pitching for the Wildcats against Panthers righty Matt Wotherspoon.