Red Storm Claim Middle Game with a Five-Run Sixth
April 21, 2012
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Villanova (28-19, 2-11) led 1-0 through most of the game, but St. John's (16-30, 4-9) finally solved Villanova senior starting pitcher Molly Manning with five runs in the sixth inning to carry them to a 5-1 win in the middle game of a weekend BIG EAST series. Manning pitched very well through five innings surrendering just one hit in that time, but the Red Storm bats came alive in the sixth as St. John's scored all five of the runs it would need. Offensively, Villanova had four hits with the only RBI coming off the bat of junior first baseman Valerie Ortega.
Manning started with a 1-2-3 inning, her first of three on the day and the Wildcat offense got to work right away. Senior center fielder Jamie O'Hara reached on an error and advanced to second on a perfect sacrifice bunt from senior left fielder Tessa Braga. After O'Hara moved to third on a wild pitch, Ortega laced an RBI single over the second baseman's head for a 1-0 Wildcat lead after one inning.
In the top of the second, Manning surrendered her only hit of the first five innings with a double off the bat of Kacee Cox. Cox moved to third on a groundout, but Manning stranded her there with a groundout and foul out to freshman right fielder Elise Samoy Alvarado to end the inning.
From there, both Manning and St. John's pitcher Fran Carrullo retired the side in order through three innings of play to make the game a pitcher's duel early on. In the top of the fourth, Manning allowed a runner after retiring five in a row when Kelsey Moyer reached on an error to start the inning. Following a strikeout and pop out, junior catcher Amanda Marquez threw out Moyer attempting to steal to end the inning.
The Wildcats had a two-out chance in the bottom of the fourth when freshman designated player Beth Smetana got in the head by a pitch and moved to second on a wild pitch. After a walk by Marquez put two runners on, sophomore shortstop Ali Lowe flew out to left field to end the inning with Villanova still holding a one-run advantage.
In the fifth, Manning cruised with three straight pop outs as she had still only allowed two base runners to that point in the game. In the Villanova fifth, Alvarado led off with a single, but she was quickly erased when O'Hara lined into a double play when Erin Burner robbed the senior center fielder of a hit. Braga flew out to end the inning as Villanova led 1-0 heading to the sixth.
In the top of the sixth, the Red Storm broke through with a big 5-run inning that put them in front for good. Manning retired the first hitter on a pop out, but Dominique Marcelino reached on an infield single to get the rally started. Chrissy Montez then wasted no time in getting St. John's the lead when she skied a home run over the left field fence to give them a 2-1 lead. The Red Storm then tacked on some insurance runs with five straight hits that scored three runs for a 5-1 St. John's lead. With the Red Storm still threatening with runners on the corners, Manning induced a foul pop out for the second out of the inning and Marquez then threw out her second runner of the day at second base to end the inning.
After the Wildcats went down in order in the sixth, sophomore relief pitcher Kaity Sitzman came on and retired the Red Storm in order to keep the deficit at four heading into the bottom of the seventh. In that inning, Marquez hit a one out single, but was erased on a fielder's choice by Lowe. Lowe then moved to second on a single through the right side by freshman second baseman Briana Fujii. O'Hara came to the plate as the final hope for Villanova and she grounded out to shortstop to seal the 5-1 win for St. John's.
In between games, Villanova will honor Head Coach Maria DiBernardi for her 700th career victory which she achieved on March 9th with a 2-1 win over USC Upstate.
The Wildcats will then look to take the series victory in game two against the Red Storm.