May 14, 2010
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - The second home run of the day for Matt Fleishman (Commack, N.Y.) was a grand slam during a five-run sixth inning that turned the tables for good in a 12-5 win for Villanova (28-19, 8-14 Big East) over Notre Dame (20-29, 8-14 Big East) at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth on Friday afternoon. The Wildcats opened a three-game series with a big victory on Alumni Day against a team they are chasing in the conference standings.
Fleishman hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning that broke a 4-4 tie and put Villanova ahead for good at 6-4. After the Fighting Irish got one of those runs back in the top of the sixth inning, the Wildcats erupted for a five-run outburst in the bottom of the sixth. Fleishman also singled twice in the game and finished 4-for-5 with a career-high six RBI. His two home runs mark only the third multi-homer game by a Villanova hitter in the history of the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth.
The offensive output by the Wildcats - 15 hits to go along with three walks and five hit batters - packed the outstanding pitching efforts of Brian Streilein (Staten Island, N.Y.) and Kevin Crimmel (Harrisburg, Pa.). Streilein (5-3, 4.32 ERA) struck out six while scattering five runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings, while Crimmel came in and pitched scoreless relief with four strikeouts over the final 3 1/3 innings to nail down his second career save.
A back-and-forth affair broke out in the early innings but Villanova scored in every inning from the second through the seventh, eventually pulling away on Fleishman's grand slam. The teams were tied 4-4 after a two-run rally by Notre Dame in the top of the fifth inning. In the home half of the fifth, three straight one-out singles led to a run when David Koczirka (Thornton, Pa.) singled home Dain Hall (Barrington, Ill.).
The hit by Koczirka chased Fighting Irish starter Brian Dupra (4-4, 6.20 ERA) after 5 1/3 innings, and David Mills came on to induce a fly out to center field for the second out. He then hit Tyler Sciacca (Staten Island, N.Y.) to load the bases and Fleishman drove an 0-and-1 pitch into the abyss far over the left-center field fence. Koczirka finished the day 3-for-5 with two RBI, while Justin Bencsko (Pompton Plains, N.J.) and Paul Rambaud (Chicago, Ill.) chipped in with two hits apiece.
Notre Dame opened the scoring in the top of the second inning when a two-run home run by Mick Doyle spotted the Fighting Irish a 2-0 lead. Doyle hit his fifth home run of the season to the same spot in left-center that Fleishman hit both of his home runs on a day where the wind gusted more and more as the game went on ahead of stormy weather that moved in just after the conclusion of the contest.
Rambaud beat out an infield hit that scored a run in the bottom of the second inning and Koczirka dropped a single into left-center in the third to tie the game at 2-2.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Wildcats went ahead for the first time at 4-2 on a rally that started after there were two outs and nobody on. Rambaud walked and Marlon Calbi (Montclair, N.J.) singled to left-center to advance him into scoring position, while Bencsko drove a single through the right side to score the first run. Hall then walked to load the bases and Chris Johnson (Shrewsbury, N.J.) worked out a seven-pitch walk to force in Calbi. The only three walks Dupra allowed to the 31 batters he faced came in a span of five hitters during that bottom of the fourth inning.
The Fighting Irish tied the game at 4-4 in the top of the fifth inning on a pair of balls that didn't leave the infield against Streilein. Joe Hudson singled and Adam Norton doubled to start the inning and Frank Desico beat out an infield hit with one out to score the first run. With the bases loaded and one down, an RBI groundout by Casey Martin scored the tying run.
It was in the top of the sixth inning with Villanova ahead 6-4 that Streilein and Crimmel did their best work of the day. With runners at first and second and one out, Ryan Connolly doubled to score a run and bring Notre Dame within one run at 6-5. With two runners in scoring position, Streilein struck out Desico for the second out and Crimmel then came in to get Mills out on a foul pop-up just behind home plate. That at-bat was the only time Mills was retired all day, as he drew four walks in his other four plate appearances.
Crimmel retired the first eight batters he faced and then easily worked around a one-out hit and walk allowed in the ninth inning to close out the victory, which is the eighth in 11 games for the Wildcats.
The Fighting Irish were led with two hits, two runs scored and two RBI from Doyle, while Desico had two hits as well.
Since a 12-game losing streak against conference opponents dropped Villanova to 2-12 in BIG EAST play, the team has gone 6-2 to pull into a tie with the Fighting Irish for the final playoff spot in the leaghe championship later this month. There are five regular season games remaining on the BIG EAST schedule, including the two more games that the Wildcats and Notre Dame play this weekend.
First pitch on Saturday is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. Villanova will honor its graduating seniors in a pre-game ceremony beginning at 1 p.m. The game will feature a matchup of left-handed pitchers, with Kyle Helisek (Cranberry Township, Pa.) starting for the Wildcats against Steve Sabatino of the Fighting Irish.