Baseball Denied Return Trip to Liberty Bell Title Game

Penn-Villanova Box Score (PDF)

The University of Pennsylvania baseball team fell to Villanova on Tuesday afternoon from Meiklejohn Stadium in a Liberty Bell Classic semifinal after four early runs gave the Wildcats almost all the offense they would need in an eventual 5-4 victory. The Quakers lost their second straight game to fall to 16-9 overall.

With the wind blowing out to left field, it wasn’t a huge surprise to see a ball leave the park in that direction. For Villanova, the hero was Brandon Clark, who hit his first home run of the season to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning.

In the third inning, the visitors tacked on even more, scoring three times as defensive lapses and miscommunications put Penn in a 4-0 hole. Tyler Sciacca scored one run with a double into left field to make it a 2-0 game, before Steve Schrenk flied out deep into left for a sac fly to increase the Villanova lead to 3-0. Later in the inning, B.J. Bochicchio skied a ball into shallow center but it dropped in between three Quakers for an RBI double.

Penn responded with two runs in the bottom of the third to cut its deficit in half. A two-out Connor Betbeze triple scored Gary Tesch from third to make it 4-1. One batter later, Mike Vilardo brought Betbeze home with a ringing single into left-center.

Villanova starter Matt Meurer held Penn in check in the fourth inning before giving way to JB Kole to open the fifth. Kole worked into the seventh before running into trouble, by which time the Wildcats had added a vital fifth run as Connor Jones hustled down the line and reached on a fielder’s choice, avoiding a double play that would have ended the inning. Instead, Clark was able to score from third and make it a 5-2 lead for the Wildcats.

The Quakers worked their way back into the game with a run in both the seventh and eighth innings. Betbeze notched his second RBI of the game with a single right back up the middle that scored Austin Bossart from second after Bossart had originally reached on a bunt single. In the eighth, Ryan Deitrich doubled to lead off the frame and moved to third on a Spencer Branigan groundout. With one away in the inning, Joey Greco just missed what would have been a game-tying home run, settling for a deep sacrifice fly to left field that made it a one-run game at 5-4.

The Wildcats left the bases loaded in the ninth and gave Penn one last chance for the win. After two outs to open the inning, Ryan Mincher doubled into left field to bring up Betbeze with a chance to tie. Facing a full count, Betbeze took a pitch that appeared inside to the lefty batter, but a third strike was called, giving Chris Haggarty a seven-out save and sending Villanova onto the Liberty Bell Classic championship game on April 16, where they will face Delaware.

Penn gets back to work with Ivy League play this weekend, hitting the road for two games at Brown on Saturday, followed by two at Yale on Sunday. First pitch for both days is 12 p.m.

Download: Penn-Villanova Box.pdf