By Matthew Ryan, Sports Talk Philly Contributor
Originally published in The Villanovan.
Coming into their series against the 6-7 Creighton Bluejays, the Wildcats were on a 12-game win streak and were ranked No. 2 in the NCAA Division I RPI (rating percentage index) rankings. The RPI rankings take into account a team's winning percentage, strength of schedule and opponents’ strength of schedule.
Villanova's first series of Big East play did not go well, as the ‘Cats were defeated in all three games, 9-2, 10-0 (8 innings) and 8-0. This was the Wildcats’ first series loss since their opening series.
The Bluejays got the scoring going in the bottom of the third, jumping out to a 3-0 lead.
The Bluejays began to pile it on in the bottom of the fourth, scoring five runs and making it an 8-0 game. All five runs were unearned for Graceffo due to a throwing error by junior catcher Will Reiner.
Creighton tacked on one more run in the bottom of the fifth, which was unearned as the runner scored due to a throwing error by junior shortstop Dylan McNary, making it a 9-0 game.
After that run scored, freshman pitcher Devin Rivera came in to relieve Graceffo.
The ‘Cats got on the board in the top of the eighth with a two-run home run by graduate student Ryan Toohers that cut Villanova’s deficit to 9-2, the final score.
Toohers had one hit and two RBI’s, and Rivera pitched 3.1 innings, giving up no runs.
The season-high four errors really hurt the ‘Cats, as just three of the runs Creighton scored were earned.
The Wildcats had six hits (two doubles and one home run), drew three walks and struck out 10 Bluejays.
Senior starting pitcher Jimmy Kingsbury got the start for Nova in game two of the series.
Crieghton struck early, scoring one run in the bottom of the first.
The Bluejays added to their lead in the bottom of the third, scoring four runs and making it a 5-0 game.
Senior pitcher Cameron Mathes came in to relieve Kingsbury in the bottom of the seventh, but after giving up a three-run home run, he was relieved by freshman pitcher Patrick Montfort. Montfort gave up one run in the bottom of the seventh, making it a 9-0 game.
Montfort walked the first two batters at the bottom of the eighth and then struck out the next two, but junior pitcher Jimmy Franchetti replaced him.
Franchetti hit the first batter he faced, and with the bases loaded, he walked the next batter, giving an earned run to Montfort and making it a 10-0 game.
Due to Creighton taking a 10-run lead, the game was called as a result of the Mercy Rule. According to sportsrec.com, the Mercy Rule is “if a team is up by 10 runs after seven innings (or six-and-a-half if the home team is ahead), the game can be called.”
Villanova had three hits (one double) and struck out a season-high 15 batters.
Game three of the series had graduate student Tyler Arella on the mound for the ‘Cats.
Arella struggled, giving up three runs in the first, two in the second and two in the third.
In the bottom of the fourth, sophomore pitcher Cole Vanderslice relieved Arella. Vanderslice gave up one run in the bottom of the third, making it an 8-0 game, which went on to be the final.
Sophomore Danny Wilkinson pitched two innings, giving up no hits and no runs.
Villanova once again had three hits, along with one drawn walk, eight strikeouts of the opposition and two errors.
In the series, the Bluejays hit .310 while the Wildcats only hit .133.
The Wildcats’ next series is at home against the 10-13 Seton Hall Pirates (3-1 Big East). Game one is on Friday, games two and three are a doubleheader on Saturday and the series finale is on Sunday.
As a team, Seton Hall hits .253, and its opponents hit .248.