Baseball Uses Late Rally to Top Villanova

Story posted March 26, 2015 in Sports, CommRadio by Ryan Hickey

After using a dramatic late inning rally to defeat Indiana on Sunday, the Nittany Lions (5-14) used more late inning magic to get by the Villanova Wildcats (7-12) Wednesday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

With Penn State and Villanova locked in a 2-2 tie, James Coates put the Nittany Lions in business in the eighth inning with a one-out walk. Ryan Richter followed that up with a single that slid under the glove of Wildcats third baseman Kevin Jewitt. Catcher Alex Malinsky then lined a ball to right field that handcuffed right fielder Donovan May, allowing Coates and Richter to each advance one base.

After an infield fly from Taylor Skerpon with the bases loaded, redshirt junior Greg Guers rocketed a double into the right-center field gap that scored all three base runners to put the Nittany Lions up 5-2. 

“I was just trying not to get out in front of any pitches and just try to hit a ball hard and push it through the infield,” said Guers. “It ended up being a pretty good hit in the end.”

Relief pitcher Jack Anderson replaced Penn State starter Geoff Boylston in the sixth inning, going 2 2/3 innings and receiving the win. As a team, the Nittany Lions have now won four out of their last five games, including Sunday’s over the No. 21 Indiana Hoosiers.

“I am really proud of how our guys fought, especially in the second half of the game,” said head coach Rob Cooper.

Boylston surrendered the first run of the game as Villanova opened the scoring in the top of the third. With two outs and B.J. Bochicchio on third, Donovan May hit a fly ball to left that was misjudged by Coates and fell behind the junior.

Penn State’s defense flashed the leather in the top of the fourth. Leading off the inning, Max Beermann hit a blooper to center that Richter made a diving catch. To end the inning, Eric Lowe ripped one down the right field line and tried to stretch his single into double when Aaron Novak fired a one hopper to Jim Haley covering second and Lowe was tagged out to end the inning.

The Wildcats added another run in the top of the fifth. After a one-out single from David Gulati, Emmanuel Morris attempted a sacrifice bunt, but beat out the throw to put runners on first and second. After a fly out from May, Adam Gross ripped a single up the middle, scoring Gulati from second to give Villanova a 2-0 lead halfway through.

In the bottom of the inning, the Nittany Lions threatened right off the bat. Alex Malinsky was hit by a pitch to start and Taylor Skerpon added a single before Guers sacrificed the runners over to second and third. Villanova starting pitcher Mike Sgaramella struck out Novak for the second out, but then J.J. White poked a grounder that Villanova third baseman Kevin Jewitt couldn’t handle, plating Malinsky from third. Jim Haley tied the game at two after his single to center scored Skerpon from second.   

Both starting pitchers did not receive a decision, as Boylston went 5 1/3 innings for the Nittany Lions, allowing eight hits and two runs. Villanova’s Mike Sgaramella departed after five innings, allowing four hits and two unearned runs.

With the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the seventh, Anderson got Jewitt to chop a grounder to second that Skerpon put away to end the threat. The blue and white had their own threat in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases with two outs, but Haley struck out to end the inning.

Villanova loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth, but Sal Biasi closed the door by striking out Jewitt to end the game.

Penn State will host a weekend series against Central Connecticut at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park starting Friday at 5:30 p.m. on ComRadio.

Ryan Hickey is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email rjh5435@psu.edu