Baseball: ‘Cats bounce back over USF

Tim Richer

After taking two games from South Florida in a three game set over the weekend, the Wildcats (16-15, 5-7 Big East) have climbed into eighth place in the Big East standings. Only eight schools will make the Big East tournament in May, making this an important week for Villanova. South Florida (25-12, 9-6 Big East) entered the series in second place in the conference.

The Wildcats began the series with a Friday afternoon game in Plymouth Meeting, Pa. Senior starting pitcher Mike Loree took the mound and did not disappoint. He tallied nine innings of nine-hit ball, giving up only two earned runs.

The ‘Nova offense was unable to supply much help as it was held to just two runs in nine innings by USF’s senior Danny Otero. He matched Loree’s outing by giving up only six hits and no earned runs.

Once Otero left the game in the 10th inning, the Wildcats were able to swing their bats. Junior first baseman Dan Terpak delivered a game-winning single with the bases loaded and two outs off Bulls reliever freshman Shawn Sanford to give Villanova the 3-2 victory.

The Saturday doubleheader started with the ‘Cats off to a quick 2-0 start in the first inning of the first game. Villanova was unable to hold its lead due to sloppy fielding that accounted for four errors and three unearned runs during the game.

Junior Chris Delaney pitched eight strong innings for South Florida, improving his record to 8-0 while holding the Wildcats to just three runs. The Bulls took the lead in the fifth inning on an RBI single to centerfield by second baseman junior Dexter Butler. The Wildcats never came back, allowing two more runs in the sixth and scoring just one in the ninth to lose 5-4.

Junior shortstop Derek Shunk was the star of the game for the Wildcats, going 2-for-3, including a triple and a double with two runs scored and an RBI.

The second game of the afternoon began the same way as the opener; Villanova jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning after a bases-loaded single by sophomore Joe Cotter. The Wildcats lost the lead in the fourth inning after giving up two runs.

In the bottom of the inning, Villanova regained the lead with an RBI double by junior third baseman Gus Guida. Cotter doubled later in the inning to drive in Guida for his third RBI of the game.

After the fourth inning, starting pitcher junior Jordan Ellis settled down for the ‘Cats as he tallied eight innings of seven-hit ball. Ellis struck out two batters and allowed just two earned runs, improving his ERA to 2.05.

After two batters reached base in the ninth inning, sophomore Josh Eidell took over and retired the rest of the side with just nine pitches for his first career save. With the 6-2 victory, the Wildcats split the weekend doubleheader, and Ellis earned his third win of the season.

The Wildcats next Big East series will be a three-game showdown on the road against the Pittsburgh Panthers, April 20-22, at Trees Field. Pitt enters the game in fifth place in the conference this season.