Plymouth Meeting, Pa. - Rookie right-hander Steven Schwartz sat down a career-high five batters in his second collegiate start but Penn's one run would not hold up as Villanova put three on the board in the bottom of the seventh and the Wildcats made it stick, taking the Liberty Bell Classic semifinal showdown, 3-1.
Schwartz came into the afternoon having already made four appearances in his first season in the Red and Blue and took control early, punching out the side in the opening frame. Only two base runners made it past second base on Schwartz as he pitched out of a jam in the second after a double by Alan Day, and in the third when a steal attempt by the Wildcats tried to fool the Quakers freshman but the 1-3-6-3-4-2 run down gunned down catcher Andy Wendle at home plate.
Penn (6-11) scored its run in the fourth inning on a Sean Abate single through the right side of the infield. Nate Moffie started the Red and Blue's offense in the inning also by singling through the right side and Bryan Graves followed with a base knock to left field on the very next pitch. Abate and Graves each advanced on the throw from right field on Abate's hit but Moffie had already slid successfully into home for Penn's first tally.
Remington Chin relieved Schwartz who finished the day with 4.0 innings pitched, giving up no runs and issuing no walks versus his five strike outs. Chin again threw beautifully, allowing just one base runner during his two innings of work. But Villanova (13-6-1), a team that averages 5.7 runs per game, would not be held down for the entire afternoon.
After a ground out by pinch hitter Alex Bardeguez, Mark Cardillo was hit by a pitch from reliever Joe Thornton (0-1). Craig Mirsky dribbled a ground ball directly to Abate at first for the inning's second out. Kris Molloy was down to his final strike when he ripped one back to the pitcher's mound that momentarily stunned Thornton as it hit his glove, knocking the ball and Thornton to the ground. His throw to first base was errant, which allowed the tying run to cross the plate. Two more errors in the inning would plate two more runs to give Villanova its margin of victory. Ted Aust (2-2) picked up the win with three perfect innings pitched and Mike Grodecki (5) earned the save.
Penn brought the tying run to the plate in the eighth and ninth innings. In total each team stranded seven runners on the base paths, while the Quakers out hit Villanova seven to four. Abate and Kyle Armeny each recorded a pair of hits to lead Penn and Day paced the Wildcats with a 2-for-3 performance at the plate.
Dartmouth and Harvard make their way to Murphy Field this weekend as the Ivy League schedule resumes. Penn hosts the Big Green on April 2 with a doubleheader beginning at 11:30 a.m. and the Crimson take the field against the Red and Blue on April 3 for a double-dip beginning at noon. Both twin bills can be heard live on www.pennathletics.com.
Written by Mat Kanan, associate director of athletic communications