By Matthew Ryan, Sports Talk Philly Contributor
Originally published in The Villanovan
The Villanova baseball team faced off against Delaware on Saturday and Sunday and swept the Blue Hens, 6-5 and 11-10, improving its record to 4-2.
The ‘Cats, who were the home team for game one, started hot with senior Chris Rotondo leading off the bottom of the first inning with a double and freshman Cameron Hassert doubling in the next at-bat, scoring Rotondo.
Hassert advanced to third on a groundout by sophomore Jack O’Reilly and in the next at-bat crossed home thanks to a groundout by graduate student Ryan Toohers, which gave the ‘Cats a 2-0 lead after the first inning.
In the top of the third, the Blue Hens got on the board with a sacrifice fly, making it a 2-1 game. For starting pitcher graduate student Tyler Arella, that run would be unearned because the baserunner who scored reached base on an error by third baseman O’Reilly.
In the bottom of the fifth, Rotondo led off the ‘Cats by getting hit by a pitch, and in the next at-bat, Hassert bunted, advancing Rotondo to second. In the next at-bat, O’Reilly hit a single, which scored Rotondo and extended Nova's lead to 3-1.
Delaware wasted no time responding to the ‘Cats, with Aidan Riley hitting a two RBI singles in the top of the sixth, tying the game 3-3. With one out and the Blue Hens with runners on first and second, starting pitcher Arella was replaced by senior Cameron Mathes, who got the ‘Cats out of the jam, striking out the next two batters.
Rotondo led off the bottom of the seventh for the ‘Cats with a double, and thanks to another sacrifice bunt by Hassert, Rotondo advanced to third. In the next at-bat, O’Reilly singled, scoring Rotondo and giving the ‘Cats a 4-3 lead.
The next batter for Nova was Toohers, who walked, and sophomore Lucas Latrenta got hit by a pitch, loading the bases. In the next at-bat, senior Pat O’Neill walked, scoring O’Reilly, and graduate student Nick Oar walked, scoring Toohers and giving Villanova a 6-3 lead. The next two batters struck out, ending the eventful half-inning for the ‘Cats.
Delaware responded in the top of the eighth, scoring two runs, making it a 6-5 game. Sophomore Danny Wilkinson came in to relieve Mathes with two outs, looking for a four out save.
Wilkinson retired all four batters he faced, resulting in a 6-5 victory for the ‘Cats in game one of the series.
Rotondo had two hits, both doubles, and scored three runs. In his second save of the season, Wilkinson pitched 1.1 innings, giving up no hits and striking out two. Villanova had seven hits (three doubles), drew five walks and struck out nine batters.
The final game of the series at Delaware was a busy one. With starting pitcher senior Jimmy Kingsbury on the mound, the Blue Hens opened up the scoring in the bottom of the first with a run-scoring single, taking a 1-0 lead. That run would be unearned for Kingsbury, as the runner that scored reached base on an error by shortstop O’Neill.
Villanova responded with Latrenta hitting a solo home run at the top of the second, tying the game at one.
In the bottom of the second, two walks gave Delaware runners on first and second, and a two out double scored the two baserunners, giving the Blue Hens a 3-1 lead.
The ‘Cats responded in the top of the third with Toohers hitting a two RBI double, scoring Rotondo, who was on second, and O’Reilly, who was on third.
In the top of the fourth, the ‘Cats extended their lead with an RBI single by Rotondo that scored sophomore AJ Hansen, who reached earlier on a single. Rotondo’s single advanced senior Sam Margulis to third.
After Rotondo stole second, a double by O’Reilly scored both Margulis and Rotondo, giving the ‘Cats a 6-3 lead.
In the top of the fifth, the ‘Cats would once again extend their lead with a home run by senior Jeff Manto that also scored O’Neill and gave the ‘Cats an 8-3 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Bluehens cut Nova's lead, scoring three runs and making it an 8-6 ball game still in favor of the ‘Cats.
The ‘Cats were able to get those three runs right back in the top of the sixth, with O’Neill walking and scoring Hassert, along with Hansen singling, scoring Toohers and finally Manto walking, scoring Latrenta.
Delaware scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh, cutting the ‘Cats’ lead to just 11-10.
The score stayed 11-10 for the remainder of the game, as Villanova hung on to get its second straight series sweep.
Hansen got on base four times (three hits, one walk), had one RBI and scored one run. Wilkinson got his third save of the year, pitching 1.1 innings, giving up no hits and striking out two. Villanova had 11 hits (two doubles and two home runs), drew seven walks and struck out nine batters.
The ‘Cats play a three-game home series this week against 6-5 Northeastern, starting on Friday and ending on Sunday.