May 15, 2014
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - Freshman second baseman Todd Czinege (Overland Park, Kan.) continued his hot hitting with three hits and three runs batted in but Villanova (15-33, 4-12 BIG EAST) lost an 11-8 decision to Butler (19-29, 6-10 BIG EAST) despite a six-run rally in the opener of a three-game series on Friday afternoon. Seven of the nine Wildcats starters reached base safely at least once to help the team overcome deficits of 6-0 and 7-4 on a hot and humid day at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth.
The visiting Bulldogs scored twice in each of the first two innings to quickly grab a 4-0 lead and Villanova did not draw even for the first time until a three-run seventh inning knotted the score at 7-7. Butler regained the lead for good with a pair of two out runs in the top of the eighth inning. In the bottom half of the eighth the Wildcats got one run back and trailed only 9-8 but the Bulldogs tacked on two insurance runs in the top of the ninth.
Czinege has seven hits in his last two contests after recording a four-hit day versus Penn State earlier in the week. He raised his average to a team-high .317 for the season and finished the day with two singles and a double. Sophomore catcher Emmanuel Morris (Willowbrook, Ill.) and freshman left fielder Brian Trabulsi (Malverne, N.Y.) each had two hits and two runs scored. Sophomore third baseman Kevin Jewitt (West Chester, Pa.) had a single and two runs scored while also becoming just the third Villanova hitter in the last decade to be hit by a pitch three times in a single game.
The score was tied 7-7 through seven innings but Will Amador led off the top of the eighth for Butler with a single to left field. Pinch runner Brodie Meyer advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and took third on a passed ball with one out. Senior reliever Chris Haggarty (Valley Cottage, N.Y.) got leadoff hitter Austin Miller on a soft liner to shortstop for the second out of the inning and Chris Maranto was intentionally walked.
Senior lefthander Matt Meurer (Katy, Texas) entered with runners at the corners and two outs to face lefty-hitting Marcos Calderon. Meurer appeared to be out of the inning when he got Calderon to swing and miss on a 1-2 pitch in the dirt but it was instead ruled that Calderon foul-tipped the ball and he was given another chance to swing the bat. The next pitch was hit to left field for a two-run single which snapped the tie and put the Bulldogs in position to secure the win.
The game went down to the wire only because of a furious rally by the Wildcats in the middle innings. Villanova got on the board with two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, scored twice more in the sixth to pull to within 6-4 and then finished off the rally with the three-run frame in the seventh.
Trabulsi bunted for a single with one out in the fifth inning and Morris was hit by a pitch with two away. Czinege then smoked a two-run double to the gap in left-center field to drive in the Wildcats first two runs of the game. Jewitt singled to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning and both Trabulsi and senior center fielder Connor Jones (Chandler, Ariz.) added RBI singles later in the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh Morris was safe at first on a fielding error to start the inning. He stole second and scored on a one-out double down the right field line by sophomore first baseman Max Beermann (Tampa, Fla.). Jewitt was hit by a pitch and sophomore pinch hitter Adam Goss (Bellaire, Texas) doubled to left-center to score both runners and tie the game.
Villanova still wasn't done after Butler retook the lead in the top of the eighth inning. Trabulsi walked on four pitches with one out in the bottom half of the eighth, Morris singled to right with two outs and Czinege lined a single to center field to cut the deficit in half before Bulldogs reliever Will Schierholz (4-2, 3.19 ERA) induced a groundout to second to escape the inning. Billy Laing pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his eighth save of the season.
The teams are scheduled to play the second game of the series on Friday at 12:05 p.m., though the forecast for heavy rain tomorrow makes that game look doubtful. Any schedule updates for the weekend, if necessary, will be announced on Villanova.com on Friday morning.
NOTES: With his appearance in today's game Meurer moved into a tie for second place in school history with 71 career appearances ... He is tied with Scott Marks (1986-89) and Kevin Crimmel (2007-10) ... The only other Wildcats hitters to be hit by a pitch three times in a game since 2004 are Justin Bencsko vs. Youngstown State on March 21, 2010 and Tyler Sciacca against Georgetown on April 13, 2012 ... Goss is 7-for-19 (.368) with six career RBI as a pinch hitter and overall has reached base safely 15 times in 27 plate appearances (.556 on-base percentage) in pinch-hitting situations ... This weekend's three-game series marks the first-ever meeting on the diamond between Villanova and Butler.