PHILADELPHIA - Penn baseball plays the third of seven consecutive games at Meiklejohn Stadium on Tuesday at 3 p.m. against the visiting Villanova Wildcats in the opening game of the 2012 Liberty Bell Classic. The Quakers and Wildcats will be playing for the second time in less than a week, with Penn defeating Villanova last Wednesday by a score of 6-3, the first win for the Red and Blue over their Main Line rival since 2009.
Last Time Out
An early start on Saturday morning had Penn's bats hitting the snooze button in the opener of a doubleheader against Lafayette, falling 3-2. Needing a win in the final game against the Leopards in order to take two of three in the series, the offense came to life, jumping out to an 8-2 lead. Lafayette wouldn't go quietly, rallying back to tie the game at 8-8 before both bullpens settled in and game moved to extras. In the bottom of the 11th, Cody Dillabough led off with a walk and got to third base with only one away. A shallow liner to right field from Austin Bossart brought the sophomore into score, giving Penn the walk-off victory, 9-8.
Following the Red and Blue
Live stats of the Villanova game will be available by clicking here, and in-game pictures and updates will be posted all season long on Twitter, @pennbaseball. The Penn Sports Network will also be providing audio coverage of Tuesday's action.
About the Wildcats
Villanova topped out at six games over .500 early on this year, but have fallen into a bit of a funk in the past week. Starting last Tuesday with a 10-inning loss to La Salle, the Wildcats have lost four of five and enter Tuesday at 14-11 overall.
Offense: Villanova ranks in the Top 20 nationally in team batting average (.314, 19th), hits (281, seventh), doubles (55, 16th), triples (10, 20th) and sac flies (16, 12th). This week's winner of the Big 5 Player of the Week, Tyler Sciacca, leads the team with a .449 BA and is tied for the team lead with 10 doubles and 25 RBIs. Sciacca is effective in both reaching base and causing havoc once he's there, with an OBP of. 509 and eight stolen bases in nine attempts.
Pitching: JB Kole was given his first start last week against Penn and threw well for three innings before being lifted for a bullpen-by-committee approach. Josh Harris would eventually be credited with the loss as the Quakers hung six runs on the board in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. With the Big East season underway, a similar scenario is likely as the Wildcats are apt to save their regular starters for conference action. As a staff, Villanova has a team ERA of 4.36, over a full run lower than its opponents.
Vince Voiro nabbed his second weekly award of 2012 - the first coming two weeks ago from the Ivy League - by being named the Big 5 Pitcher of the Week for the week ending March 25. The senior co-captain defeated Lafayette on Friday afternoon for his third victory in three starts, striking out 10 Leopard hitters without a walk in a complete game, five-hit effort. The closest Lafayette came to scoring was in the seventh inning when they loaded the bases with one away, but Voiro shut down any thoughts of a comeback with consecutive Ks to end the inning as Penn walked away with a 2-0 victory in the series-opener.
Senior outfielder James Mraz has made the most of his return to the line-up in recent days, collecting six hits in four outings against Villanova and Lafayette last week. Mraz led all the Quakers with a batting average of .462 over that span, and was also hit by a pitch and walked twice in that time for an on-base percentage of .562 for the week. After ending the trip to Charleston Southern with his batting average at .273, Mraz has raised it over 100 points entering Tuesday.
With an RBI single during the third inning of Saturday's matinee with Lafayette, Derek Vigoa put another recent Penn standout in his rear-view mirrow, moving ahead of Tom Grandieri for career hits with 164. Now alone in eighth place, Vigoa would tie Mike Shannon (1993-1996) for seventh with six more hits. 2011 graduate Dan Williams is the all-time Penn leader in the category with 204 while wearing the Red and Blue.
Penn enters Ivy League play for the first time this weekend, hosting a pair of cross-divisional doubleheaders. Things get started with games at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday against Brown. The weekend will wrap up when Yale comes to call at 12 and 3 p.m. on Sunday. Audio for each of these games will be available on the Penn Sports Network.