‘Cats drop two of three at home to South Florida

Corey Marine

The Villanova baseball team lost two difficult games against Big East rival the University of South Florida Bulls in a three-game home series this past weekend in Plymouth Meeting, Pa. The Wildcats entered the weekend with a record of 17-16 (3-9 Big East) before losing the first and last games of the set against a strong USF team, which was 22-13 (10-2).

The Wildcats took an early lead in the first game as an unearned run crossed the plate due to three throwing errors by the Bulls. This would be the story of the afternoon for the Villanova offense that only had five hits, while putting a total of 15 runners on the base paths (seven walks and three hit by pitches). However, the Bulls counteracted this by getting 11 hits and drawing eight walks.

USF would go on to tie the game in the top of the third inning before Villanova freshman Kevin Wager put the ‘Cats up 2-1 with an RBI double in the fourth. However, South Florida came roaring back with five unanswered runs. Senior outfielder Mike Consolmagno brought in two runs in the top of the sixth with a one out triple, and the Bulls never looked back. Sophomore Mike Francisco then came in as a reliever only to walk the bases loaded in the top of the seventh and allow a two run single. The Wildcats closed the 6-2 gap to within two runs later in the inning but were never able to muster up enough offense to retake the lead.

Villanova’s bats woke up as the team took the field on “Go Blue” Day at Villanova Ballpark as two late game homeruns led the Wildcats to an 11-7 victory. ‘Nova more than doubled its hit total in the second game as the team strung together 13 hits. Junior lefty Kevin Crimmel put together a strong start as he went six and one-third innings, allowing just two runs. The Wildcats tagged USF starter Derrick Stultz for five runs in six innings of work.

Villanova scored the first runs of the game off of a David Koczirka single set up by a Wes Borden single and a double down the left field line by sophomore second baseman Dain Hall. South Florida jumped on the board in the top of the third, and the Wildcats responded with two unanswered runs. USF would later return the favor by scoring five runs in three innings off of senior Kyle Carver, including a two-run homerun in the top of the eighth. However, Villanova went on to hit two homeruns of their own, including a two run shot by senior Joe Rosati that put the ‘Cats ahead for good. Fellow senior Matt McFolling added three more runs to the board on a homerun with two base runners on as part of a six run rally. South Florida would tag on one more run in the ninth, but the five run deficit would be too much to overcome. Carver picked up the win in his two and two-thirds innings pitched.

The final game of the three game set would prove to be similar as the Bulls went on to win by the same score. Villanova took an early lead only to lose it. The Wildcats jumped ahead in the bottom of the second in a three run inning, which included another double by Wager. USF starter Shawn Sanford settled down and pitched into the eighth inning, allowing four runs. The Bulls tied the game in the fourth off a pair of timely singles. South Florida brought in three runs on three hits. The Wildcats threatened to have another explosive eighth inning as they scored a run and loaded up the bases for the pinch-hitting Carver, who struck out swinging on a 2-2 count. Francisco made another relief appearance along with freshman Kyle McMyne, as the two went a combined two and one-third scoreless innings.

Villanova will be on the road against the Cincinnati Bearcats for a three-game set before returning for a home stand for a game against the Temple Owls. The Louisville Cardinals will then come into town to face the Wildcats.