May 13, 2011
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - A five-run rally in the top of the fifth inning that abruptly started with two outs and nobody on was too much to recover from and Villanova (17-30, 4-18 Big East) dropped the opening game of a three-game series by a final score of 8-2 to Rutgers (18-27, 9-13 Big East) at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth on Friday afternoon. Prior to the start of the game the Wildcats honored their three graduating seniors in Senior Day ceremonies on the field.
One of the seniors to be honored was designated hitter Dain Hall (Barrington, Ill.), who singled in the bottom of the first inning to become the 11th player in program history to reach 200 career hits. Hall also played in his 203rd game for Villanova and moved into sole possession of second place in school history for career games played. First baseman David Koczirka (Thornton, Pa.) and closer Mike Francisco (Newtown Square, Pa.) were also honored for their four-year contributions to the program.
The game was tied 1-1 after four innings of play and in the top of the fifth junior starting pitcher Kyle Helisek (Cranberry Township, Pa.) set down the first two batters on just two pitches. The inning came undone after that, however, as the Scarlet Knights began their rally with four consecutive doubles which plated the first three runs of the frame. Leadoff hitter Michael Lang worked a full count against Helisek (1-8, 5.85 ERA) after being in a 1-and-2 hole and doubled on a fly ball to right-center field to start the rally.
When all was said and done Rutgers had run off six consecutive hits - five for extra bases - and scored led 6-1 before sophomore reliever Matt Longfield (Miami, Fla.) got Brian O'Grady to ground out to end the big inning.
In the bottom of the fifth inning the Wildcats got one of the runs back when junior shortstop Marlon Calbi (Montclair, N.J.) beat out an infield hit with one away and scored on a triple to the wall in right-center field by junior right fielder Matt Fleishman (East Northport, N.Y.). The triple by Fleishman made the score 6-2 but Villanova got no closer and the Scarlet Knights added single runs in the sixth and ninth innings to close the scoring.
Calbi finished the day with three hits and both of the runs scored for the Wildcats, while Fleishman and sophomore left fielder Steve Schrenk (Brigantine, N.J.) each had two hits and drove in a run. Villanova tallied 11 hits on the day, although the triple by Fleishman in the fifth inning was the only one that went for extra bases.
Rutgers starting pitcher Tyler Gebler (4-5, 3.19 ERA) pitched seven innings and worked around 10 hits allowed to surrender just two earned runs, while walking none and striking out five. He held the Wildcats to going 1-for-9 (.111) with runners in scoring position before Willie Beard pitched two scoreless innings to finish the contest.
Seven of the eight runs scored by the Scarlet Knights in the game crossed the plate with two outs. In the top of the third inning there were runners at the corners with two away when a wild pitch by Helisek allowed Jeff Melillo to score the first run of the game.
Villanova tied the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the third when Calbi singled to right field with one out, moved to third on a hit-and-run single by Fleishman and scored on a fielder's choice by Schrenk.
Lang finished the game 3-for-4 with a walk and a run scored for Rutgers, while Boykin had three hits and two runs batted in.
The teams' continue the three-game series on Saturday at 1:15 p.m.
NOTES: Saturday is Alumni Day at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth and the team will host a barbecue prior to the start of the game ... Among the other festivities taking place throughout the day will be a pre-game ceremony to honor Art Mahan, the longtime baseball coach and director of athletics at Villanova who passed away in December at the age of 97 ... More than a dozen members of the Mahan family will be on hand to celebrate Art's life and take part in the pregame ceremony on the field.