Men’s baseball wins opener, loses series against WVU

Patrick Mullaney

The baseball team faced off against the West Virginia Mountaineers (18-6, 5-1 Big East) for a three-game series this past weekend at Villanova Ballpark in Plymouth Meeting, Pa. They won one of the three games in the series.

In the first game of the series on Friday and the first conference home game of the season, ‘Nova came away with the victory, beating West Virginia 3-1. Junior Brian Streilein pitched a shutout into the ninth inning against a team which averages more than 10 runs per game.

Streilein (3-3, 6.55 ERA) allowed seven hits and one earned run in eight and one-third innings, during which he walked three and struck out three. Despite allowing at least one base runner in every inning except the eighth, Streilein cruised into the ninth inning having retired nine of the last 10 batters. He left the game with runners on first and second with one out and got the win when sophomore Mike Francisco nailed down his second save of the year.

As they have so many times this season, the Wildcats made something out of nothing when senior Matt McFolling doubled and later scored on a single by senior Joe Cotter.

In the fifth inning, a two-run double to left field by redshirt freshman Matt Szczur brought in redshirt freshman David Koczirka. Freshman Marlon Calbi wound up going the distance, but the damage was done by a Villanova team that later wriggled out of a tight spot in the ninth to protect the outcome.

West Virginia’s attempts at a rally never really amounted to anything, and Villanova benefited.

The second game of the series had a higher run total; however, Villanova fell on the losing end of the score, as the Mountaineers defeated the ‘Cats 12-8.

The Wildcats scored six runs in the bottom of the first inning to lead 6-1, but the Mountaineers eventually retook a one-run lead in the top of the sixth inning before pulling away in the late innings. Villanova actually outhit West Virginia, 14-11, but the team’s bullpen issued nine walks in six innings and the Mountaineers scored twice in the sixth, three times in the seventh and twice in the ninth.

Starting pitcher junior Kevin Crimmel pitched three and one-third innings and left with a 6-5 lead and runners at second and third with one out in the top of the fourth. Freshman Kyle McMyne came in to get a strikeout and groundout to escape the inning.

Neither starting pitcher got out of the fourth inning, and Andy Altemus (1-0, 4.37 ERA) earned the win for the Mountaineers.

Closing out the weekend, the Wildcats lost the rubber match against West Virginia by the score of 7-4.

The Wildcats got another effective start from sophomore Chris Pack, who kept his team in the game by limiting the damage the Mountaineers could do with men on base. Despite allowing three solo home runs, Pack (3-3, 3.79 ERA) held West Virginia to just 1-for-7 (.143) with runners on base. He worked around a two-out double in the first inning to strike out the side and wound up with five strikeouts in seven innings pitched. He allowed eight hits and five earned runs while walking just one.

After extending his hitting streak to 15 games on the previous day, McFolling went hitless with a walk in the fifth.

The Mountaineers broke through in the second inning with an RBI double by Grant Buckner that made the score 2-1. In the third, Jedd Gyorko tied the game with a groundout that drove in a run and Vince Belnome followed with a solo home run to make the score 3-2. Justin Marks, Austin Markel and Dan DiBartolomeo also homered for West Virginia.

Koczirka had two hits for Villanova and hit .615 (8-for-13) in the series. Seven of the nine batters in the Wildcat starting lineup reached base safely at least once.

Villanova’s next three game series will see them traveling to South Bend, Ind., on April 3 to face Notre Dame.