Baseball Splits Two Games on Friday


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Chris Rotondo (above) hit a walkoff RBI single on Friday to beat NJIT in game 1.

Loghan Hirkey, Staff Writer

On Friday, Mar. 11, Villanova baseball played two home games against the New Jersey Institute of Technology, beating the Highlanders, 6-5, and falling in the second, 5-2.

The 6-5 walk-off in the seventh inning of the first game began with graduate student Chris Rotondo hitting a single, followed by sophomore Cameron Hassert laying down a bunt between the pitcher and first baseman for another single. After Rotondo and Hassert were on first and second, they then pulled off a double steal and were both in scoring position with graduate student Joey Castellanos at the plate. Castellanos drilled an RBI single to tie the game at five. 

With runners on the corners, junior Jack O’Reilly hit a walk-off single and secured the win for the Wildcats. 

Other hits in the game included an O’Reilly RBI single in the bottom of the first, creating a 1-0 lead. Hassert put Villanova up 2-0 with a groundout in the second inning, and junior AJ Hansen made it 3-0 with an RBI triple in the bottom of the third. Senior Will Reiner extended the lead to 4-0 in the same inning with a sacrifice fly, but the Highlanders would not give up.

In the top of the sixth, the Highlanders settled in offensively and tied the game at four. It got dicey in the seventh when an RBI single gave them a 5-4 lead, but Villanova remained calm and ended up on top. The Villanova pitching lineup tallied 10 strikeouts on the day, eight coming from junior Cole Patten, but it was junior Danny Wilkinson who earned the win, improving to 1-1 on the season.  

The Wildcats were unable to carry this momentum into the second game. Rotondo scored when Hansen was hit by a pitch, giving the Wildcats a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. In the top of the second, the Highlanders scored on an RBI single and tied the game, but it wasn’t until the top of the fourth when the wheels started to fall off the track for the Wildcats, as the Highlanders scored three runs and gained a 4-1 lead. 

In the top of the sixth, the Highlanders made it 5-1 with a home run, but Villanova finally answered back with a run in the bottom of the sixth when graduate student Pat O’Neill scored when senior Matt Pinone was hit by a pitch. However, it was not enough, and there were no runs scored by either team for the rest of the game. Sophomore Brandon Siegenthaler gave up four earned runs in 3.1 innings pitched, falling to 0-2 on the season.

Due to inclement weather, the third game of the series, scheduled for Sunday, was postponed.

The rest of Villanova baseball’s season looks promising with players such as Rotondo leading the team in RBIs and home runs. He currently has 10 RBIs and three home runs, with Hassert and O’Reilly not far behind with nine RBIs each. 

In terms of pitching, Patten has been leading the team with 29 strikeouts, as Wilkinson secures the second highest with 17. Patten has also only had three earned runs on the season, while Wilkinson has had 12. 

Although there are promising stats among several players on the team, as well as strong coaching, it is still early in the season. With the Wildcats having a 3-10 overall record  so far, they will need to consistently bring in runs to have a successful outcome. Although the wins have not been coming easily, there is still a lot of promise for the rest of the 2022 season. 

Villanova will now play 10 consecutive road games, starting with a three-game series against Tulane this weekend. This stretch of games will also include the team’s first conference series against Georgetown. The Wildcats will travel to Washington D.C. from Apr. 1-3 to face the Hoyas, before returning home to host Butler in a three-game series Apr. 8-10.