The Villanova Baseball team played its first home series last weekend against the 4-2 Hofstra Pride, playing two games on Sunday. The series went well for the ‘Cats as they got the sweep, 5-0 and 3-1, racking up their first and second wins of the season.
With all-Big East team member junior Gordon Graceffo on the mound for the ‘Cats, the first game of the series started slow, with neither team scoring in the first three innings. However, in the bottom of the fourth, the ‘Cats got on the board with a one-run single by graduate student Nick Oar, scoring graduate student Ryan Toohers, who got on base earlier that inning on a double, giving the ‘Cats a 1-0 lead.
Graceffo continued his dominance, but the game remained a one-run game entering the eighth inning. During that eighth inning, the ‘Cats broke this game open.
After senior Pat O’Neill hit a one-out single, junior Dylan McNary got hit by a pitch, putting runners on first and second. O’Neill and McNary both attempted to steal, and both were successful. Thanks to a throwing error by Hofstra’s catcher, O’Neill scored. The next batter, junior Will Reiner, grounded out, bringing senior Chris Rotondo to the plate with two outs. Rotondo hit a 0-2 double, which scored McNary and gave the ‘Cats a 3-0 lead.
Sophomore Jack O’Reilly then hit a single, scoring Rotondo. Senior Sam Margulis pinch ran for O’Reilly and eventually stole second. The next two Wildcats walked, and sophomore Lucas Latrenta hit a one-run single before Oar struck out, ending the inning with the ‘Cats ahead 5-0. Graceffo pitched a one, two and three top of the ninth inning, and the Wildcats won their first game of the year 5-0.
Graceffo pitched a complete game shutout, striking out seven on the way to his first win of the season. O’Neill went 4-4, scoring one run and stealing one base. Villanova had 10 hits (two doubles), drew six walks and struck out seven batters.
In game two, with senior Jimmy Kingsbury on the mound, both teams started off slowly offensively, with neither team scoring in the first four innings.
The ‘Cats started the scoring off in the bottom of the fifth inning. Toohers and freshman Cameron Hassert opened the bottom half of the inning by both hitting singles. Toohers advanced to third on Hassert’s single, and with second open, Hassert stole, giving the ‘Cats two runners in scoring position with no outs.
After O’Neill walked, loading up the bases for Nova, freshman Anthony Schooley, pinch-hitting for Latrenta, hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Toohers and breaking the scoreless tie. In the next at-bat for the ‘Cats, Margulis bunted to the pitcher and Hassert scored, giving Nova a 2-0 lead. O’Neill stole third, but the inning came to a close with a Reiner strikeout.
In the top of the sixth, Hofstra got its first two runners on base, one on second and the other on third. Kingsbury got the next two batters out but then threw a wild pitch, which Hofstra scored on, cutting Nova’s lead to 2-1. The ‘Cats got out of that half inning with no further damage done and immediately responded in the bottom of the sixth.
Rotondo got hit by a pitch to start the bottom half of the inning, and then O’Reilly singled, advancing Rotondo to third. Lorusso then hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Rotondo and giving the ‘Cats a 3-1 lead.
In the top of the ninth inning, with senior Cameron Mathes on the mound and the ‘Cats up 3-1, Hofstra did not fold. After its first batter popped out, its next two batters singled and with a failed pickoff attempt, both runners advanced, giving Hofstra its tying runner in scoring position.
The next batter for Hofstra, Austin Hauck, got on base with a fielder’s choice, with his teammate getting thrown out at home. Hauck would advance to second on the throw home, meaning Hofstra still has their tying run in scoring position. Sophomore Danny Wilkinson came in to relieve Mathes, needing to get just one out, and he delivered, striking out Alex Sica to give the ‘Cats a 3-1 victory and the series sweep over Hofstra.
Kingsbury pitched six innings, giving up one run and striking out 11 in his first win of the season, and Hassert had one hit, one stolen base and scored one run. The Wildcats had five hits, drew two walks and struck out 14 batters.
Villanova’s next series is at home against the 2-0 Delaware Fighting Blue Hens on Saturday and Sunday in a baseball verison of the Battle of the Blue.