09 Dec 2021 | 09:51 | Baseball
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – On a gorgeous Friday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park, the Villanova Wildcats (16-11 overall, 4-9 BIG EAST) combined dominant pitching with a powerful offensive attack to escape in game one 6-4 over Georgetown (4-15 overall, 4-11 BIG EAST). Villanova received another remarkable outing from right hander Gordon Graceffo (Cranford, N.J.) as the junior tossed 7.2 innings while surrendering one earned run and tying his career-high fanning 10 Hoyas.
Both offenses were slow out of the gate as neither team tallied a hit until the third inning. Prior to back-to-back two-out singles in the third for the Hoyas, Graceffo was lights out retiring the first eight batters in a row. The junior would avoid any damage by striking out the final batter of the inning. The Wildcats would come in and display their power when Chris Rotondo (Redding, Conn.) launched a 405-foot homerun into the left field bleachers to score the first run. The round tripper was the seniors fifth homerun of the season. Nick Lorusso stepped in next and smacked a ground-rule double to deep center field, but the Hoyas would escape picking up a strikeout and groundout.
The Hoyas would threaten in the top of the fourth following a leadoff single from Conor Nolan. A sacrifice bunt would get Georgetown in scoring position, but Graceffo remained poised and got consecutive lineouts. In the bottom of the frame, the first two Wildcats were set down before Jeff Manto (Bristol, Pa.) sent a no-doubt homerun into the right field stands to extend the Villanova lead. Following a Sam Margulis walk (Pennington, N.J.) and stolen base, Will Reiner (Madison, Conn) ripped a double into the right field corner plating Margulis.
In the top of the sixth inning, Graceffo was flawless throwing 10 pitches and working a quick inning. The Wildcats would use that momentum in the bottom half of the inning as Will Reiner opened the inning with a hit by pitch. Chris Rotondo would stay hot smacking a double into left center. Nick Lorusso and Ryan Toohers would each do their job by hitting a sacrifice fly and plating both Reiner and Rotondo to give the Wildcats a 5-0 lead.
Georgetown would not shy away scoring all four of their runs in the final three innings. The first run came in the top of the seventh following a leadoff hit by pitch from Andrew Ciufo. The Hoyas would force the action as Ciufo stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error before Tony Barreca singled in the run. In the eighth, Graceffo would get two quick outs before a hit by pitch and single set up an Andrew Ciufo single to score one and cut into the deficit. The Wildcats turned to Jimmy Kingsbury (Phoenixville, Pa.) to escape the jam and the senior picked up a strikeout on three pitches to end the inning.
Villanova would tally an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth when Sam Margulis opened the inning with a double down the left field line. Following consecutive outs, Nick Lorusso stepped up big by slapping a single through the right-side scoring Margulis and extending the lead back to 6-2. In the top of the ninth, the Hoyas would rally two runs on three hits, but Kingsbury would pick up three strikeouts to close the door. The senior finished the afternoon with four strikeouts over 1.1 innings.
Villanova was led offensively by veterans Chris Rotondo and Nick Lorusso tallying two hits each while Lorusso had two RBI’s. The Wildcats drew five walks on the afternoon. The Hoyas were led offensively by Conor Nolan and Eddie McCabe earning multi-hit performances. Angelo Tonas got the loss for the Hoyas after tossing 3.2 innings and giving up two runs and striking out four.
The conference foes will return to the diamond for game two tomorrow which will be played at Villanova Ballpark. First pitch has been moved up to noon. Be sure to follow @VUBaseball on Twitter and @villanovabaseball on Instagram for updates throughout the season.