Strong Pitching Carries Wildcats to 3-2 Win over Butler in Series Finale
May 17, 2014
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - Junior right-hander JB Kole (Basking Ridge, N.J.) was dominant for the second consecutive start, senior relievers Matt Lengel (Devon, Pa.) and Matt Meurer (Katy, Texas) combined for the final six outs and Villanova (16-34, 5-13 BIG EAST) closed out the 2014 season with a 3-2 victory over Butler (20-30, 7-11 BIG EAST) in the second game of a doubleheader at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth on Saturday afternoon. The loss eliminated the Bulldogs from contention for the final spot in next week's BIG EAST Championship at the end of a wild final day that determined the regular season conference standings.
Kole (4-3, 5.12 ERA) allowed just four hits over seven-plus innings while walking four and striking out six. He finished the regular season by yielding just two earned runs on seven hits to go along with 15 strikeouts spanning 13.0 innings in his final two starts. In this afternoon's season finale he retired the side in order in three of the first four innings and the Wildcats scored single runs in the third, fifth and seventh innings to build just enough of a lead to pull out the win.
The only runs for the Bulldogs came home on a two-run single by Quincy Quintero with two outs in the top of the eighth inning but one batter later Meurer was summoned from the bullpen and he shut the door on the Butler rally on just one pitch to end the inning. He also worked a perfect ninth inning to register his ninth save of the season.
Kole walked the first two batters in the top of the eighth inning before Lengel came in from the bullpen. Chris Maranto greeted Lengel with a sacrifice bunt which left the Bulldogs with runners at second and third with one out in a 3-0 game. Lengel blew a 2-2 fastball past Marcos Calderon for a strikeout for out number two before Quintero hit an 0-1 pitch into right-center field to drive in both runners. Ryan Wojciechowski singled to move the potential tying run into scoring position but Meurer got Michael Fries to fly out to right on the first pitch he threw.
Sophomore left fielder Adam Goss (Bellaire, Texas) had two hits and drove in a run for Villanova, while sophomore shortstop Eric Lowe (Arlington Heights, Ill.) walked twice, scored twice and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. Senior center fielder Connor Jones (Chandler, Ariz.) also had a pair of walks in the game and the Wildcats received six free passes from Butler starting pitcher Billy Laing (2-2, 3.51 ERA) to make up for having only four hits in the contest.
In the bottom of the third inning there were two outs and nobody on when Lowe coaxed a full-count walk out of Laing to extend the inning. Jones walked on five pitches and Goss singled through the left side to drive in Lowe with the first run of the game. Lowe later walked on four pitches to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning, then stole second and eventually moved to third on a wild pitch. Jones walked as well and Goss grounded into a double play which allowed Lowe to score the game's second run.
Villanova manufactured its final run in similar fashion in the bottom of the seventh inning. Senior pinch hitter Kevin Rojko (San Jose, Calif.) led off with a walk and redshirt freshman Mike Mecca (Ridgefield, N.J.) pinch ran and stole second. Mecca got a big jump off of second base and was able to take third when senior catcher John Cialone (Houston, Texas) grounded out to short for the first out of the inning. Lowe lifted a sacrifice fly to right to drive in the run which wound up being the difference in the game.
Laing allowed just two hits over seven innings of work but walked six and gave up the three earned runs. He also struck out six before Jeff Schank came in and pitched a scoreless eighth to keep the Bulldogs within striking distance.