April 29, 2012
TAMPA, Fla. - Villanova (30-23, 4-15) rallied to tie the game with two outs in the top of the seventh on an RBI single by senior center fielder Jamie O'Hara, but No. 17 South Florida (44-8, 16-3) scored a run in the bottom of the inning to sweep the BIG EAST doubleheader by a score of 3-2. Senior Caitlyn Delahaba pitched her 72nd career complete game in a strong effort.
After taking the loss in the second game yesterday, Delahaba looked to bounce back and help the Wildcats take the final game of the series. After the Wildcats went down in order in the first, Delahaba had to battle through the first inning to keep the Bulls off the board. Ashli Goff hit a one-out double and Delahaba surrendered her first walk of the day to the next hitter to put two runners on with one out. The senior hurler danced out of trouble getting a fly out and her first strikeout of the day to keep the game scoreless after one inning.
In the second, Villanova's patient approach helped plate them a run to take the lead. Senior designated player Molly Manning was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and she moved to second on a walk by freshman right fielder Beth Smetana with nobody out. The Bulls then brought out a new pitcher in Lindsey Richardson and senior third baseman Kristi Burlin greeted her with a single to load the bases. After a fielder's choice forced Manning out at the plate. A wild pitch by Richardson allowed Smetana to score to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead. After Villanova re-loaded the bases with one out, Richardson got a strikeout and groundout to end the inning.
Now with the lead, Delahaba went out and threw a shutdown inning by retiring the Bulls in order to maintain the Wildcat advantage.
In the third, Manning hit a two-out single and Richardson responded with a strikeout to end the inning. Delahaba went out and retired the side in order for the second consecutive inning to make it eight straight hitters sent down in a row.
The Wildcats went down in order in the fourth and the Bulls finally broke through to tie the game in the bottom of the inning. After back-to-back one out single, the two runners stole second and third to put two runners in scoring position with one out. Jessica Mouse then hit an RBI groundout to second base to tie the game at 1-1 heading to the fifth inning.
In the top of the fifth, Sara Nevins came on in relief and retired Villanova in order to give the Bulls a chance to take the lead. Alexis Nowell was hit by a pitch with one out and pinch runner Courtney Goff advanced to second on a groundout for the second out of the inning. Goff then broke for third base, but a throwing error by junior catcher Amanda Marquez allowed Goff to advance home for a 2-1 USF lead.
Each team went down in order in the sixth with Marquez throwing out a would-be base stealer before Delahaba struck out the final hitter of the inning.
Down to their last three outs, the Wildcats had one more chance to rally to tie the game. Nevins retired the first two hitters before freshman second baseman Briana Fujii was hit by a pitch. Junior pinch runner Taylor Olafson then advanced to second base on a single by sophomore shortstop Ali Lowe to put the tying run in scoring position. O'Hara then stepped in and hit an 0-2 right back through the middle to score Olafson to tie the game at 2-2. Braga struck out to end the inning, but the Wildcats had battled back.
In the bottom of the seventh, Jessica Mouse singled to lead off the inning. She advanced to second on a good sacrifice bunt before Delahaba got a groundout for the second out as the winning run stayed at second base. Alexis Nowell then stepped in and delivered the game-winning, walk-off double to left center field to give the Bulls a 3-2 victory in the final game of the series.
Villanova will look to bounce back in their final BIG EAST series of the year next weekend against Seton Hall when the Wildcats will honor their six seniors.