Eighth-Inning Blast Leads Wildcats Past Penn State 10-5 in Final Non-Conference Game
May 12, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior Joe Cotter (Bryn Mawr, Pa.) hit a tie-breaking home run in the eighth inning, classmate Matt McFolling (Chicago, Ill.) drove in five runs and junior Michael Mayer (Midland Park, N.J.) continued his strong run of relief pitching with five scoreless innings on Tuesday evening as Villanova (21-26) knocked off Penn State (24-24), 10-5, at Medlar Field in its final non-conference game of the season. The Wildcats have won five straight meetings against the Nittany Lions.
With two outs and nobody on in the eighth inning, Cotter hit a 1-0 pitch over the fence in left field for his fourth home run of the season. The Wildcats then put the game away with four runs in the top of the ninth inning, a frame which featured the second run-scoring double of the game by McFolling and RBI singles by redshirt freshman David Koczirka (Thornton, Pa.) and freshman Marlon Calbi (Montclair, N.J.).
For the second time in the last three games, Mayer (1-0, 4.07 ERA) entered in the middle innings and went the rest of the way for Villanova. He finally earned his first career decision in his 34th relief outing over the last three years. After allowing a pair of one-out singles in the bottom of the fifth inning, Mayer induced an inning-ending double play and went on to retire 13 of the final 14 batters of the game. The only hitter to reach safely against him in that span came on a harmless infield single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. In all, Mayer scattered just the three singles in his outing, struck out two and registered nine outs on the ground.
McFolling went 3-for-5 and drove in five runs with a run-scoring single in the first inning, a three-run double in the second and his second double in the ninth. Cotter had two runs scored and two driven in and redshirt freshman Matt Szczur (Erma, N.J.) had a single, drew two walks and scored two runs. The Wildcats reached base in 20 of their 47 plate appearances in the game with 10 hits, eight walks and two hit batsmen. Sophomore Dain Hall (Barrington, Ill.) and senior Kyle Carver (Aldan, Pa.) each had a hit and two runs scored.
The game started with a flurry of runs for both teams and Villanova led 5-4 after the top of the second inning. A single run scored by Penn State in the bottom of the fourth inning was the only other scoring until Cotter's blast in the top of the eighth.
Senior Joe Rosati (Havertown, Pa.) singled with one out in the top of the first inning, Szczur drew a walk and McFolling singled to drive home the game's first run. The lead didn't last long, however, as the Nittany Lions scored four runs in the bottom of the first inning with three straight one-out hits. McFolling's bases-clearing double was the big hit in a four-run second inning as the Wildcats reclaimed the lead.
Starting pitcher Kyle Helisek (Cranberry Township, Pa.) recovered from the rocky first inning to pitch through the fourth with eight hits and five earned runs allowed. The talented freshman left-hander walked none and struck out two in his eighth start of the season before yielding to Mayer.
Calvin Grumley (2-3, 9.35 ERA) was the losing pitcher for the Nittany Lions. He worked 2 2/3 innings and was tagged for five hits and five runs (four earned), allowing both the Cotter home run in the eighth inning and the four runs in the ninth. Each team started a freshman southpaw and Mike Franklin went two innings and allowed four hits and five runs for Penn State. Drew Palen pitched four hitless innings with four walks and four strikeouts from the third through the sixth before Grumley took over.
Ryan Boonie had two hits and drove in two runs for the Nittany Lions, while Rick Marlin hit a solo home run in the fourth inning that tied the game 5-5.
The Wildcats wrap up the 2009 season this weekend with a three-game series at home against University of Connecticut. The Huskies will be making their first trip to Plymouth Meeting since 2005. The series opener is scheduled for 3:45 p.m. on Thursday afternoon.
NOTES: In his last five appearances, Mayer has logged 18 innings pitched while allowing just two runs ... He has lowered his ERA for the year from 12.79 to 4.07 in that span ... On Saturday night at Georgetown, he pitched a career-high 5 1/3 innings of scoreless relief ... His current scoreless innings streak is at 11.0 innings ... Tonight's game marked the first time Villanova played at Medlar Field in Lubrano Park at Penn State, though it was the team's second visit there ... In 2007, the Wildcats made the drive to State College, Pa. for a similar midweek game, only to have the contest rained out ... Senior Wes Borden (State College, Pa.) played for the first time in his hometown.