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Baseball swept during Arkansas roadtrip

By Chris Mango
On February 22, 2012


Villanova's baseball season began with a three-game series this past weekend against the nation's fourth-ranked team and SEC powerhouse, the University of Arkansas. 

Coming off of a 2011 season where Villanova was an underwhelming 20-32 with just a 7-20 mark in the Big East, the team looks to make a move toward the top of a Big East conference that is seemingly up for grabs. 

In this early part of the season, only two Big East teams are nationally ranked: St. John's and Louisville. 

In what was a tough matchup, the Wildcats did not fare very well. 

During their trip to Fayetteville, Villanova was routed in all three games, beginning on Friday. 

The three-game set commenced with what actually turned out to be the most respectable contest of the trio, with Arkansas topping  Villanova, 11-5. 

Arkansas quickly put the result of this contest out of doubt, with a six-run first inning off of senior left-hander Kyle Helisek. Three runs in the fourth and two more in the sixth gave Arkansas an 11-1 lead entering the seventh inning. 

Senior outfielder Matt Fleishman led off the sixth with a double to the gap in right center, and subsequently scored on a pair of groundouts

The lone highlight of the day for the Wildcats was a seventh inning grand slam by Fleishman

The game, played at Arkansas' Baum Stadium in front of a crowd of 7,312, was the first of the season for each team, as Arkansas became 1-0 and Villanova ended the day at 0-1. 

With the loss, Villanova fell under the .500 mark (5-6) in season openers under Head Coach Joe Godri in what was only the fourth series matchup against SEC teams during his tenure.

Things did not get much better as the calendar turned to Saturday, and the same two teams battled again at Baum. 

Once again, the Razorbacks hung an early six runs, on the 'Cats this time in the second inning against sophomore right-hander Pat Young. 

A run in the fourth put Villanova on the board, but Arkansas answered with two in the bottom of the inning and three more just two innings later. 

The score had ballooned to 11-1, and the final tally was 13-1. The Wildcats had no trouble getting men on base, but left nine of them there, and when combined with three errors in the field, the result of this game was never in doubt.

 Arkansas senior outfield Sam Bates went 3-for-4 with a home run and 5 RBI to propel the Razorback rout. 

With the win, Arkansas was now 2-0, and had already won the three game set, with their eyes already set on completing the sweep the next day.

In the Sunday finale of the season-opening series, it was safe to say that the tumult continued, this time, to a tune of a 17-1 steamrolling by Arkansas. 

Once again, the Razorbacks put together a big first inning, this time with a four run outburst. 

However, no help was afforded for sophomore right-hander Max Almonte, whose effort was spoiled by two early errors. 

The Wildcats did not break into the hit column until the sixth inning, when Fleishman, who hit safely in all three games, singled off of sophomore right-hander Barrett Astin. Arkansas finished with 17 runs on 17 hits, completing the three-game sweep of the Wildcats.

Next up for Villanova are a few days off until a trip to Norfolk, Va., for a three-game series with Norfolk State. 

The series will take place from Friday through Sunday, as the Wildcats look to right the ship against a lesser Division 1 opponent. 



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