Penn-Villanova Box Score
PHILADELPHIA – A five-run, two-out rally in the sixth inning spurred the University of Pennsylvania baseball team to a thrilling 12-5 win over the visiting Villanova Wildcats on Wednesday afternoon at Meiklejohn Stadium. Sophomore Joey Greco was the offensive catalyst with a pair of home runs – including the go-ahead grand slam – and six runs batted in as the Quakers pounded out 18 hits against the Wildcats’ pitching staff.
Penn didn’t have too much going against Villanova starter Kevin MacLachlan until the third inning. With the Wildcats on top, 2-0, all it took was one swing of the bat for Greco to level the game at 2-2 with his first home run of the season. The Quakers then took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning off reliever Matt Meurer. Meurer, who in the end would take the loss, gave up a RBI grounder back up the middle from Gary Tesch to score Austin Bossart after the Penn catcher worked his way on with a double deep into center field.
The 3-2 lead that the Quakers held at that point lasted until the top of the sixth as the Penn bullpen worked its way into a jam. After two men reached to start the inning against Jeremy Witt, Mitch Holtz came on and could only retire one batter, leaving the bases juiced for John Beasley. Beasley recorded one out on a fly ball to left, but also gave up a single that rolled through the left side of the Penn infield and made it a 5-3 game. Bringing on Stephen Silvestri to face lefty Connor Jones, the Quakers finally reached the end of the inning with a much-needed strikeout.
The Quakers put their first three runs of the ballgame on the board with two down in the third and fourth innings, and the sixth would be no different. A Mitch Montaldo single was all Penn had to show for itself with two down in the inning, but a combination of power and patience flipped the script on Villanova’s afternoon. Tesch started things off with a single that dropped into center field to move Montaldo into scoring position and Connor Betbeze followed that with a walk to load the bases. Meurer exited the game and headed for the dugout with Chris Haggarty coming on in relief, but the Quakers were just getting started. Mike Vilardo worked a walk on a full count, driving in Montaldo and cutting the deficit to one, 5-4. Though Greco had already connected on one bomb, Haggarty grooved a fastball to the Penn DH on the first pitch of the at-bat and the sophomore turned on it, crushing a no-doubter out over the fence in left field for the 8-5 lead.
A rattled Wildcats’ pen continued to struggle in the late stages of the contest, giving up two runs in both the seventh and eighth innings to up the Quaker lead to 12-5. Two of those runs came courtesy of wild pitches. On the flip side of that, Penn locked down on Villanova. Silvestri continued to work into the seventh inning, picking up his first win of the season, before giving way to Montaldo. Montaldo and Ronnie Glenn worked 2.1 innings collectively and only allowed one runner over that span, a two-out walk in the top of the ninth.
As the numbers would indicate, it was a busy day at the plate for Penn, with seven players collecting multiple hits. Vilardo went 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored, while Tesch was 3-for-5 with another two RBI and one run. Montaldo set the table for the Quakers, going 3-for-5 and scoring three runs, while Ryan Deitrich was amazingly the fourth Penn player with three hits on the day, going 3-for-5. Betbeze, Greco and Bossart all added two hits and scored two runs apiece.
Penn will try to keep up its stellar play when they face Lafayette in a four-game series this weekend, part of a five-game stretch against the Leopards that will conclude next Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the Liberty Bell Classic. The Quakers first make the trip north to play in a doubleheader beginning at 12 p.m. on Saturday. On Sunday, Penn is back home at “The Meik” for a doubleheader with the Patriot League foe that will get going at 12 p.m.