Roundup: Track, baseball perform well down stretch

Paul Martucci

Track and field: Wildcats make strides at Penn Relays

The Penn Relays represents a significant weekend for both the men’s and women’s track and field teams. In the event’s 113-year history, Villanova has won a total of 28 Penn Relay titles. Additionally, last year’s victory over Stanford in the women’s distance medley relay increased the number of Villanova’s Penn Relay DMR championships to 10. These first-place finishes are the most of any women’s program in the Penn Relay’s history.

This year both the men and the women competed in many events. For the women, the two most competitive events were the DMR and the 4×1500-meter relay.

The DMR team consisted of seniors Akilah Vargas and Tiera Fletcher and juniors Arusha McKenzie and Frances Koons. The squad that defeated Stanford in 2006 for the title was edged by Tennessee. The ‘Nova squad finished only one second behind the Volunteers.

The 4×1500-meter group, on the other hand, consisted of senior Liz Gesel, Vargas, Koons and sophomore Ellen Dougherty. This team, which finished fourth in its event, fell short to Michigan, Brigham Young and Georgetown.

For the men, meanwhile, the two most competitive events were the DMR and the 4×800-meter relay.

In the DMR, the men’s team fell seconds short of earning another Penn Relay title, earning second place after Texas. The team was composed of seniors Michael Kerrigan, Drew Eckman and Bobby Curtis and sophomore Elvis Lewis.

“The final result was a mix of satisfaction and frustration, but I’d say the emotion that carried over all others was the sense of pride I felt being able to represent Villanova in that race and be able to pull my weight,” Kerrigan said. “It’s one of the reasons I came here and being able to fulfill that goal was something I’ll never forget.”

In the 4×800-meter event, Villanova finished just over 1.5 seconds behind the winner, Columbia, but took sixth place because of a highly competitive field. The members of this team were sophomores Dan and Sean Tully, along with Curtis and Kerrigan.

In addition to these events, men’s runner Andrew Keino placed fifth overall in the 3000-meter steeplechase and earned a spot at the regional championship. Although the collection of titles in the corridor between Jake Nevin Fieldhouse and the Pavilion may not have grown after this year’s Penn Relays, a competitive group with numerous close finishes can feel comforted by a highly successful season.

Baseball: ‘Nova takes two of three

from Cincy

After taking on two Philadelphia rivals and battling a Big East foe in a three-game series, the Wildcats have emerged as a team with momentum, winning four out of five.

The week began Tuesday afternoon against the Temple Owls, a team the Wildcats lost to earlier in the year by a score of 10-1. Coming off an earlier sweep at the hands of the Panthers of Pittsburgh, the ‘Nova squad entered the fray hungry. Despite that hunger, the ‘Cats found themselves down 3-2 after three innings.

Control around the plate was an issue for Temple pitchers all game long, however, as seven of Villanova’s nine starters drew at least one walk. In the fourth inning, the Wildcat offense took advantage of these mistakes and erupted. After loading the bases without getting a single hit, sophomore Joe Cotter connected on a three-RBI triple and then managed to score on the same play. Villanova went on to plate one more run in a five-run fourth inning that gave the team a lead it never relinquished.

Adding to the offense was junior Derek Shunk, who reached base in all five at-bats against Temple. Freshman Brian Streilein, in his first start for the Wildcats, threw for seven innings and allowed three runs, one of which was unearned. He struck out nine Owl batters.

The following day, the Wildcats remained home to take on the St. Joseph’s Hawks. Earlier this season, the ‘Cats made easy work of St. Joe’s, winning 13-0. This second meeting produced a similar result, as ‘Nova prevailed, 11-3.

Much like the fourth inning explosion against Temple, the Wildcat offense scored eight runs off the Hawks in the second inning alone. The attack was a team effort, as seven consecutive batters successfully reached base to start the second. Cotter drove a double to the outfield with the bases loaded to record two RBIs.

Pitching for the Wildcats was junior Frank Jankowski, also making his first start of the season for the Wildcats. Jankowski lasted three innings, allowing only one run while striking out three.

Entering the weekend with momentum, the Wildcats traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio for a three-game series with the Bobcats. In a matchup between two teams with similar records, the Wildcats dropped the first by a large margin, losing 13-4 but rebounded to win the final two games, 8-7 and 7-2, respectively.

In the first game, Cincinnati persistently tacked on runs, building up a 6-1 lead after five innings. The Wildcats gnawed back, cutting the deficit to 6-4, but the Bobcats rallied for six runs in the bottom of the eighth inning en route to the victory. In the second game, ‘Nova came from behind, scoring four runs in the top of eighth inning to overcome a 7-4 Cincy lead to take the win, 8-7. In the rubber match, the hot Wildcat bats wasted no time, scoring five runs in the top of the first en route to a 7-2 win and a series victory.

Villanova was scheduled to take on the Penn State Nittany Lions on Tuesday night, but the game was postponed due to rain. The Wildcats will resume action on Saturday when they host a doubleheader against West Virginia.