11 Dec 2021 | 03:29 | Baseball
PHILADELPHIA, Pa.—Junior outfielder Timothy Lilly (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) tallied his second multi-homer game of the season and freshman third baseman Nick Lorusso (Monroe, Conn.) also homered, but Villanova (4-14) came up just short of La Salle (10-7) in an 8-7 loss at Hank DeVincent Field on Saturday afternoon. A back-and-forth game through the early and middle innings became a tight bullpen affair in which neither team scored after the sixth inning.
Lilly is the Wildcats first batter since Brendan Mannix in 2002 to have two multi-homer games in a season. He hit a two-run shot in the top of the third inning and a solo shot in the sixth on Saturday and now has a team-high five home runs on the season. Lilly previously hit both a grand slam and a three-run home run against Mount St. Mary’s on March 3. Combined with Lorusso’s second home run of the season, Villanova now has more long balls in 18 games this year (16) than it did in 48 games all of last season (15).
Freshman shortstop Dylan McNary (Jefferson, Mass.) had three hits in the first four innings as the Wildcats got off to a hot start. He had two singles, a double and two runs scored as Villanova scored twice in the top of the first inning and four times in the third. Senior designated hitter JP Radvany (Lawrenceville, N.J.) had a two-run single in the first inning and another single ahead of Lilly’s first home run of the game.
Lilly hit a solo home run leading off the sixth inning to give the Wildcats a 7-6 lead. Sophomore second baseman Pat O’Neill (Eagleville, Pa.) followed with a double down the left field line and advanced to third on a passed ball with still nobody out, but was stranded there as three consecutive strikeouts ended the inning. The final runs of the contest scored in the bottom of the sixth, as the Explorers first tied the score at 7-7 and then plated an unearned run which was ultimately the difference in the game.
Freshman starting pitcher Gordon Graceffo (Cranford, N.J.) pitched into the sixth inning and got big outs when he needed them to keep Villanova in the game. He gave up 10 hits and was charged with eight runs (seven earned), while walking one and striking out five in 5 1/3 innings. Graceffo (0-3) departed after a fielding error with one out in the bottom of the sixth allowed the eventual go-ahead run to reach base. He was the victim of a four-run first inning, but induced a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning with the bases loaded in the bottom of the second and retired the side in order on three groundouts to second in the fifth.
Radvany has driven in six runs in the past two games against La Salle, following up his four-RBI day on Friday afternoon with a two-out, two-run single to open the scoring in the first inning. McNary led off the game with a double to right-center and moved to third on a groundout. Junior first baseman Ryan Toohers (Florham Park, N.J.) was hit by a pitch and stole second on the first pitch to Radvany with two outs. Radvany then hit an 0-1 pitch through the right side to bring home both runners.
In the bottom of the first, Kevin McGowan doubled with one out and Ryan Guckin followed with an RBI single to get the Explorers on the board. Later in the inning Nick O’Day was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in a run, Ben Faso scored on a balk and Quentin Brown hit a sacrifice fly as La Salle went in front 4-2.
McNary started another rally in the third inning with a leadoff single to left. He was still at first with two outs when Lorusso went to the opposite field and tied the game at 4-4 with a two-run home run to right-center. Radvany singled to keep the inning going and Lilly homered to right for a 6-4 lead. It marked the third time this season that the Wildcats homered twice in an inning, matching their efforts from the bottom of the ninth inning against Chicago State and the bottom of the first inning against Mount St. Mary’s in games that were each played on March 3.
Villanova led 7-6 when it took the field for the home half of the sixth inning, but consecutive singles by Peyton Sorrels and McGowan got the Explorers bats going again. McGowan was thrown out at second trying to stretch his hit into a double as junior right fielder Tyler Bruno (Breinigsville, Pa.) recorded his second outfield assist of the year. That left Sorrels at third with one away, and a wild pitch brought him home to tie the score. Guckin then reached on an error, and Faso greeted sophomore reliever Cameron Mathes (Broomall, Pa.) with an RBI double that put La Salle in front for good.
Mathes retired the next two batters to prevent any further damage in the sixth inning and Lorusso pitched two scoreless frames in the seventh and the eighth to keep the deficit to one run. He retired the side in order in the bottom of the seventh, then escaped a jam in the eighth inning with two straight infield pop-ups after there were runners at the corners with one out.
Despite tallying seven runs on nine hits for the day, the Wildcats final 12 batters of the game were set down in order. It began after O’Neill’s double in the sixth inning, as Explorers reliever Erik Janss (2-1) retired the final nine batters he faced. Connor Hinchliffe pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to earn the save.
The teams are alternating home sites in a three-game weekend series which is now tied at one game apiece. Villanova won Friday’s game 8-6 at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth and will look to win the series back at home on Sunday afternoon. First pitch on St. Patrick’s Day has been pushed back to 1:30 p.m.
December 11th, 2021
December 11th, 2021