Late Rally Comes Up Just Short as Wildcats Edged by Penn State, 5-4
May 13, 2014
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - In the final non-conference game of the season Villanova (15-32) scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning but fell just short of tying the game in an eventual 5-4 loss to Penn State (18-29) at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth on Tuesday afternoon. Freshman second baseman Todd Czinege (Overland Park, Kan.) had four hits and a run scored and the Wildcats sturdy bullpen contributed 3 2/3 scoreless innings.
Czinege had three singles and a double in the game, while sophomore third baseman Kevin Jewitt (West Chester, Pa.) added two hits and a run scored. Villanova had the potential tying and winning runs on base in both the eighth and ninth innings but the visiting Nittany Lions got key outs when they needed to in order to secure the outcome.
Sophomore catcher Emmanuel Morris (Willowbrook, Ill.) singled to lead off the home half of the eighth inning with Penn State leading 5-1 at that point. Czinege followed with a double down the left field line and sophomore first baseman Max Beermann (Tampa, Fla.) reached on a third strike wild pitch to load the bases with nobody out and give some credence to the idea of a comeback.
Jewitt flied to left for the first out of the inning but sophomore left fielder Adam Goss (Bellaire, Texas) lined a hard single through the right side to score Morris with the inning's first run. Junior relief pitcher Jeff Courter (Maple Glen, Pa.), who had thrown 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, then batted for himself in the designated hitter spot and worked a walk to force in another run. Freshman right fielder Donovan May (Newark, Del.) then bounced into a fielder's choice which scored Beermann and made the score 5-4 and left runners at the corners with two outs.
Nittany Lions closer Jack Anderson struck out sophomore shortstop Eric Lowe (Arlington Heights, Ill.) to end the threat in the eighth inning and then survived another rally attempt by the Wildcats in the bottom of the ninth. After there were two outs and nobody on in the ninth, Czinege singled through the left side and Beermann was hit by a pitch on a full count to move the tying run into scoring position. Jewitt hit the ball hard to third but the ball was gloved by third baseman Ryan Richter, who beat Czinege to the third base bag for a force out to end the game.
The game was scoreless until Penn State plated three runs in the top of the fourth inning. A single run in the fifth extended the lead to 4-0 but Jewitt led off the bottom of the fifth with a single and later scored on a double play ball to get Villanova on the scoreboard. That run was neutralized when the Nittany Lions added their fifth run of the game in the top of the fifth to make the score 5-1.
Courter entered the game in the sixth inning with a runner at second and one out after the run had scored. He got two infield outs to strand the inherited runner and then pitched scoreless frames in the seventh and eighth innings. Senior lefty Matt Meurer (Katy, Texas) threw a hitless ninth inning in his 70th career appearance.
Junior starting pitcher Max Almonte (Long Beach, N.Y.) was charged with nine hits and five runs (four earned) in 5 1/3 innings, during which he walked one and had a season-high five strikeouts. Almonte (1-6, 5.55 ERA) cruised through the first three innings without allowing a hit before Penn State got its bats going in the top of the fourth.
Greg Guers and Alex Malinsky each drove in two runs for the Nittany Lions, who had 11 hits in the game. Jim Haley was 2-for-4 with a run scored, while Malinsky and Aaron Novak also had two-hit games.
Penn State starting pitcher Geoff Boylston (2-1, 3.42 ERA) allowed five hits and a run through 5 2/3 innings, while Ryan Harper yielded three hits and three earned runs in 1 2/3 innings. Anderson recorded the final five outs for his fifth save of the season.
Villanova closes out the season with a three-game series against Butler later this week. The series opens on Thursday afternoon with a 3:15 p.m. first pitch.
NOTES: Meurer is the fourth pitcher in school history to make at least 70 career appearances ... He is within one appearance of moving into a tie for second place on the Wildcats career list with 71 games pitched ... Scott Marks (1986-89) and Kevin Crimmel (2007-10) each made 71 appearances during their Villanova careers, while Mike Francisco (2008-11) holds the school record with 82 games pitched ... Meurer has a 0.86 ERA in 25 outings this season ... Over the past 13 games the Wildcats bullpen as a whole has a 2.43 ERA and is holding opposing batters to a .243 average ... Courter has allowed seven hits over 8 1/3 scoreless innings over his last three appearances ... Meurer has not allowed an earned run in any of his last 13 outings, a stretch that spans 17 1/3 innings.