09 Dec 2021 | 09:54 | Baseball
PLYMOUTH MEETING, PA. – In the 186th meeting, the Villanova Wildcats (12-6, 0-4 BIG EAST) fell 1-0 to the Seton Hall Pirates (11-13, 4-1 BIG EAST) at Villanova Ballpark in the opener of a three-game series on Friday afternoon. Junior Gordon Graceffo (Cranford, N.J.) was immaculate on the mound for the Wildcats hurling eight innings while only allowing one run and striking out six.
The entire afternoon was dominated by both pitching staffs working out of tight situations. In the top of the first inning the Pirates threatened by loading the bases, but Graceffo induced a 6-4-3 double play to escape the early jam. For the Villanova offense, the Wildcats loaded the bases twice in the first three innings but could not cash in with runs.
Following an infield single in the top of the first inning, Gordon Graceffo would go on to retire the next 13 batters in order, striking out four and rolling nine groundballs. The Pirates would not strike until the sixth inning when they combined small ball and timely hitting to plate the only run of the game. A leadoff bunt by Will Gale set up a sacrifice bunt and gave Seton Hall a runner in scoring position with one out. A second infield single allowed Casey Dana to lineout to right field and score Gale for the slim lead. For the game, Graceffo allowed five hits, four of which were infield singles.
While Villanova only had five hits on the afternoon, the Wildcats threatened to score multiple times. A combination of singles and walks would get Villanova into scoring position, but they never picked up the timely hit and stranded 13 runners on base for the game.
Chris Rotondo (Redding, Conn.) led the charge offensively picking up two hits. Nick Lorusso (Monroe, Conn.), Ryan Toohers (Florham Park, N.J.), and Pat O’Neill (Eagleville, Pa.) each tallied a base hit on the afternoon. Danny Wilkinson (Scotch Plains, N.J.) picked up his 10th appearance this season tossing one clean inning and striking out two.
Ryan McLinskey started for Seton Hall and tossed four shutout innings, gave up four hits, walked four, and struck out seven. Devin Hack led the Pirates offense with three hits on the afternoon.
The two teams will hit the field again tomorrow for game two at Villanova Ballpark. First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 ET. The Wildcats and Pirates hold the most meetings out of any team that Villanova has played, with the first matchup dating back to 1898. Be sure to follow @VUBaseball on Twitter and @villanovabaseball on Instagram for updates throughout the season.