‘Cats claw out victory over Hawks

James Evans

By James Greene

Sports Editor

Villanova came into the season with high expectations, but early rough road trips destoryed some of the baseball team’s confidence. However, it has now shaken off that slow start and won three of its last four games.

This past Tuesday, the ‘Cats traveled into Philly to take on Big 5 rival St. Joseph’s at Drexel Field.

‘Nova proved to be the better team on the field, beating the Hawks in an eight inning pitching duel, 3-2, to improve its record to 4-8.

The Hawks got on the board first, as they put in two runs against freshman Jake Wolff in the second inning.

After a solid first inning, Wolff came into the second throwing gas and struck out the first two batters.

However, then Wolff got wild, walking the next four batters and allowing a run. He then let up an infield single to Kevin Dougher, and the Hawks were up two.

Though this was the last run the Hawks would see, as the ‘Nova pitching staff settled down and were almost un-hittable.

Wolff settled down and pitched another strong inning, however, due to a high pitch count — 94 pitches in three innings — he was relieved by senior John Yeager.

Yeager, who was on the mound for the first time since his appendectomy surgery, was phenomenal, as he struck out six and only allowed three hits, alsoworking out of two jams in the fourth and fifth innings.

However, going into the bottom of the seventh inning the real story was the Hawks pitching staff.

Using the pitcher-by-committee approach, The Hawks used three pitchers, all pitching two shut out innings with no one going above the four-pitch mark.

So going into the seventh, the Hawks trotted its fourth pitcher of the day out to the mound, but the ‘Cats finally were able to break through.

Senior Dustin Downs got the rally started, as he reached first on a pinch hit infield single. Senior Chris Graziano then delivered with a RBI double, to put the ‘Cats on the board.

After a single by Danny Poydenis that put runners at first and third, Brian Newbold came through with an infield single to tie the game, 2-2.

With the go ahead run at third and two outs, the ‘Cats’ Adrian Schau put the ‘Cats ahead for good, as he singled up the middle.

In the top of the eighth, the ‘Cats used their third pitcher of the game, Dan Farino.

After giving up a bunt single to start the inning Farino settled down and struck out the next two batters.

A walk moved runners to first and second, but Farino relaxed and struck out the last batter to end the game.

The game was called after eight innings due to darkness.

Previously the ‘Cats were in Maryland, to take on Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks in a three game series. After they dropped the first game, the ‘Cats were able to rebound and pulled out the next two victories.

In the first game of the series the ‘Cats ended up on the wrong side of a 4-3 game, dropping its record to 1-8 overall.

The ‘Cats jumped out to an early lead, as they were able to plate three runs in the first and second inning.

In the first, Poydenis hit a one out triple and with one out later, Brian Mitchell came through with an RBI single to give the ‘Cats the early lead.

The next inning, thanks to errors, Brian Trotta and Greg Fatter were able to score, to give the ‘Nova the early 3-0 lead.

However, the Hawks were slowly able to chip away at the lead, as they put one run across in the third and then they had three RBI singles in the fourth to give them their first lead of the day, a lead they would not relinquish.

Maryland Eastern Shore’s Leon Tilghman was very impressive, as he went the distance, in picking up the win.

His final line was seven innings, three runs, one earned, seven hits, two walks and two strikeouts.

That afternoon the ‘Cats’ bats woke up in a big way, as they blasted the Hawks, 14-1. ‘Nova started off its offensive explosion with five runs in the first inning.

Newbold drove in two runs when he singled to first and then scored when sophomore Alan Day drilled a double.

The ‘Cats slowly built their lead up as pitcher Tom Kandybowicz kept Maryland Eastern Shore at bay, pitching five innings, while allowing only one run and striking out five.

In the rubber game of the three game series, Graziano took over. After singling to begin the game, Graziano found himself at third with just one out, and after the Hawks pitcher Graylon Kitchens uncorked a wild pitch, Graziano took advantage and scored.

In the third, Grazano once again led off for the ‘Cats, this time doubling, and eventually scored on a RBI single by Danny Poydenis.

With the ‘Cats up 3-0 entering the fifth, Graziano showed why he is so dangerous, manufacturing a run by himself.

After a bunting for a single, he then swiped second and third. And when the Hawk pitcher tried to pick off Schau at first, Graziano sprang home and slid in before the tag of catcher. The three steals gave him a total of 10 on the season.

Nick Allen pitched a stellar seven innings, only giving up two runs, while striking out nine.

James Russell and Mike Ciccotelli came on to shut down the Hawks in the final two innings, as Russell went one and a third and Ciccotelli went two-thirds an inning.

The ‘Cats next games are this weekend at home, when they take on Big East rival Notre Dame in a three game series.

They will play a double header on Saturday with the final game on Sunday.