May 17, 2012
PISCATAWAY, N.J. - In the opening game of the final weekend of regular season play a four-run deficit with nobody out in the bottom of the first inning was too much to overcome and Villanova (28-25, 10-15 BIG EAST) eventually was defeated by a score of 11-1 by Rutgers (29-23, 14-11 BIG EAST) at Bainton Field on Thursday afternoon.
The first four Scarlet Knights batters of the game reached consecutively in the home half of the first inning and that four-batter stretch was bookended by a leadoff home run from Brian O'Grady and a three-run shot by leading BIG EAST home run hitter Patrick Kivlehan, the latter of which gave Rutgers a 4-0 lead.
Despite the lopsided outcome the Scarlet Knights scored runs in just three innings of the game. They added three runs to the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth inning and padded their lead with the final four runs of the game in the bottom of the eighth.
Senior third baseman Kevin Wager (Holden, Mo.) had two hits for the Wildcats, who had six hits in the game but did not manage a hit over the final 18 outs of the contest against Rutgers starting pitcher Tyler Gebler (3-4, 4.37 ERA), who walked none and struck out eight in a complete game.
Villanova had more hits than the Scarlet Knights through the first seven innings of the game but the early home runs in the first inning put the Wildcats in a deficit they could not overcome. Junior left fielder Steve Schrenk (Brigantine, N.J.) singled leading off the top of the fourth inning and Gebler then retired 13 straight before hitting senior shortstop Marlon Calbi (Montclair, N.J.) with a pitch with one out in the eighth inning.
The seven runs scored by Rutgers in the first and fourth innings were charged to the account of senior starting pitcher Kyle Helisek (Cranberry Township, Pa.), who allowed only four hits in 3 1/3 innings but also walked four. Six of the runs against Helisek (3-7, 6.27 ERA) were earned and the final run crossed the plate after he had come out of the game.
After falling behind 4-0 in the first inning Villanova looked to get a rally going in the top half of the second. Junior second baseman Tyler Sciacca (Staten Island, N.Y.) led off the inning with a double to right-center field and junior catcher Brandon Clark (Spring, Texas) doubled down the left field line with one out to make the score 4-1 before Gebler recorded the final two outs of the inning to prevent the Wildcats from getting any closer.
Kivlehan had five runs batted in to lead the Scarlet Knights and added a two-run double in the eighth inning to go along with the home run in the first inning. Nick Favatella and Pat Sweeney drove in two runs apiece for Rutgers, which finished with nine hits total.
The second game of the series gets underway at 1 p.m. on Friday afternoon.
NOTES: Sophomore right-handed pitcher Matt Lengel (Devon, Pa.) pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Helisek, entering with one out in the fourth inning and pitching through the end of the sixth ... Calbi was hit by a pitch for the BIG EAST leading 23rd time this season, as well as the 53rd time in his career ... He has gotten plunked five times in the last three games ... The loss for Villanova means the highest the Wildcats can finish in the regular season conference standings is eighth place, the position they currently hold with two games left this weekend ... Villanova remains in contention for the final spot in the BIG EAST Championship next week.