by Andrew Moffa
The Wildcats had to wait a few weeks to play their first home game of the season at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth, but the wait seemed worth it as the Wildcats swept a doubleheader against Iona 5-2 and 3-1 on Saturday.
In the first game of the doubleheader, junior starting pitcher Pat Young seemed to dominate from the start, as he recorded 11 strikeouts in seven innings of work.
However, the ’Cats were still trailing Iona 2-1 going into the bottom of the eighth inning.
Freshman pinch hitter Adam Goss smacked an RBI double to tie the game at two. Goss would later score on a passed ball for the game-winning run.
However, the ’Cats were not done in the eighth inning, as senior left fielder Steve Schrenk added a two-run single to stretch the Villanova lead to 5-2. Junior reliever Chris Haggarty, who also pitched the eighth inning, finished the game.
In all, this game was a great all-around performance by the Wildcats. While Young pitched seven strong innings, the defense behind him was stellar and Villanova manufactured runs when necessary.
The second game of the doubleheader saw sophomore left-hander Josh Harris follow up Young’s great performance with an even better one.
Harris also went seven solid innings, giving up an unearned run en route to a 3-1 victory.
Fellow sophomore pitcher JB Kole finished out the game for the Wildcats, pitching two scoreless innings to record the save. With Harris keeping Iona at bay, ’Nova only needed a few runs.
Schrenk, who played well in the first game of the doubleheader, singled in senior shortstop Tyler Sciacca in the bottom of the first inning to give the ’Cats an early 1-0 lead.
Goss, who scored the game-winning run earlier in the day, added an RBI single in the third inning.
Villanova added one more run in the sixth inning to stretch the lead to 3-0, and Iona never caught up.
The Wildcats stole six bases in this contest, the most they have tallied in a game this season.
For Harris, this gem only added to his great start to the season. The sophomore pitcher now has two wins on the season and has given up only 19 hits and three walks in 20 innings of work in three starts.
The Wildcats left the field Saturday with a 3-8 record on the year.
The third game of the weekend was played on Sunday afternoon against Central Connecticut. Senior right-handed pitcher Stephen Ostapeck was on the mound for the ’Cats.
Ostapeck got out of some trouble in the first two innings to keep Central Connecticut scoreless, and senior catcher Brandon Clark hit his first double of the season in the bottom of the second to give Villanova an early 1-0 lead.
However, Central Connecticut was able to battle back in the top of the third and score two runs. They seemed destined to score a third but Schrenk threw out a runner at home.
Central Connecticut did not hold the lead for long as Sciacca rocketed a triple off the center field fence to bring in two runs and give the lead back to the ’Cats.
Villanova added another run in the bottom of the fifth to stretch the lead to 4-2, and Ostapeck saw his day end after five innings of work.
With Ostapeck out of the game, Central Connecticut took advantage of a few ’Nova relievers to re-take the lead in the seventh inning with three runs.
The ’Cats came to bat in the bottom of the ninth facing a 6-4 deficit. and were unable to post any runs as Central Connecticut won the Sunday matinee.
Even with this loss, Villanova went 2-1 at the Villanova Baseball Classic.
This is a major improvement from a very rough stint in Florida, during which the team went 0-5 with a couple of heartbreaking losses.
The team seems to be playing better, as their starting pitching is keeping them in almost every game.
After Tuesday afternoon’s battle with the Saint Joseph’s Hawks in Philadelphia, Villanova will take part in the Big Five Baseball Bash.
The Wildcats will host Chicago State, Marist and Wagner over the weekend. All games will be played in Plymouth Meeting, Penn.