Baseball Loses Two of Three at Butler


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Baseball Loses Two of Three at Butler

Matthew Ryan, Staff Writer

After getting swept in their first two series of Big East play, the Wildcats took on the 7-15 Butler Bulldogs (2-6 Big East) on the road. The ‘Cats were able to end their Big East losing streak, which reached seven games, but lost two of three to the Bulldogs, losing game one 10-5, winning game two 8-1 and finally losing the rubber game of the series, 11-3.

Elite hitting highlighted game one for the Bulldogs, who had every player with an at-bat finish the game with at least one hit. A bases-loaded double by sophomore Jack O’Reilly was a bright spot for the ‘Cats, but their bats couldn’t keep up, resulting in a 10-5 loss.

Game two had elite pitching from junior ace Gordon Graceffo and hot-hitting all around for the ‘Cats, who finished with 11 hits and had seven different players finish with at least one. A four-run seventh and a two-run eighth sealed the deal for Nova and the win for Graceffo. The right-handed pitcher pitched eight innings of one-run ball while striking out five and only giving up four hits.

The rubber game of the series broke open in the eighth inning when the Bulldogs put up eight runs. The Bulldogs only had eight hits, but they walked eight times, and the Wildcats had two errors, one of which put a runner on base for the Bulldogs. Every pitcher struggled except for sophomore Danny Wilkinson, who pitched three and one-third no-hit innings.

Butler started the first game off hot, scoring four runs across the first two innings, but the ‘Cats responded, scoring five runs across the third, fourth and fifth innings, highlighted by an O’Reilly bases-loaded double in the fifth that scored three, making it a 5-4 game in favor of Villanova.

Butler responded in the bottom of the fifth, scoring five runs, and it added on to its lead in the sixth, scoring one run, which made it a 10-5 game.

Now on a seven-game losing streak, the ‘Cats looked to Graceffo to end their winless stretch in game two.

The ‘Cats jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning and never looked back. In the bottom of the fifth, Butler cut its deficit in half, making it 2-1, but the ‘Cats scored six runs total in the seventh and eighth innings, making it 8-1, which went on to be the final, ending Villanova’s losing streak and giving it its first win in Big East play.

Senior Chris Rotondo had two hits (one triple and one home run) and two RBIs. Junior Nick Lorusso had two hits (one double) and two RBI’s. Graduate student Ryan Toohers had three hits (one double) and one RBI.

The deciding game of the series started back and forth, with Butler scoring three runs across the second and third innings and the Wildcats scoring three runs across the third and fourth innings, knotting the game up at three.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Bulldogs completely blew the game open, scoring eight runs, making it 11-3, which stood for the remainder, giving the Bulldogs a 2-1 series victory.

The next series for the Wildcats is a four-game Big East series against the 15-16 Xavier Musketeers (6-3 Big East). Game one is on Friday, games two and three will be played as a doubleheader on Saturday and the series finale is on Sunday.

The Musketeers had three players on the preseason all-Big East team: catcher Natale Monastra, second baseman Jack Housinger and left-handed starting pitcher Nick Zwack.

Housinger (BA: .293) and Monastra (BA: .287) are second and fourth, respectively, for Xavier in batting average. Andrew Walker leads the team in batting average at .361, and as a team, Xavier hits .250. 

Of pitchers that have started more than half of their appearances, Zwack has the second-lowest ERA (3.12) and opponent batting average (.245), trailing only Trevor Olson, who has a 2.92 ERA and a .199 opponent batting average. Overall, the ERA for the Musketeers is 5.66, and the opponent’s batting average is .268.

The statistics and records for Xavier are as of 4/26.