Wildcats’ Hot Start Thwarted by No. 5 Virginia Tech

By | May 8, 2022
BLACKSBURG, Va. – After taking hold of an early 5-0 advantage, Villanova saw No. 5 Virginia Tech rally back in the fifth to take the lead, ultimately falling 15-5 on a gloomy Saturday night at English Field at Atlantic Union Bank Park in a contest that was pushed back five hours due to inclement weather.

Cameron Hassert and John Whooley were the only Villanova (17-23-1) batters to log two-hit days as both went 2-for-4 with Hassert scoring a run and hitting a double. Chris Rotondo and Jack O’Reilly drove in two runs each. Rotondo’s two RBI came on a home run, his 10th of the season. The graduate outfielder is now tied for 13th on the program’s single-season record list while also standing alone at 13th on the career home runs list with 18.

The 15 unanswered runs given up by Villanova match a season-high for an opponent on the year. Villanova scored multiple runs in the first two innings but Virginia Tech (32-10) posted a pair of six-run innings to run away with the contest.

Connor Hale singled through the left side on the first pitch he saw to open the contest before Rotondo rocketed a no-doubter over the left field wall, giving the ‘Cats a 2-0 lead.

Villanova added on to its lead in the top of the second with a three-run frame.

Pat O’Neill got on base with a single through the right side, bringing up Hassert. He sent a double up the middle that hit off of the Hokies’ second baseman and into center. O’Neill made his way to third before heading home on a throwing error by centerfielder Gavin Cross that went errant, giving him plenty of room to score. O’Reilly came up with the bases loaded and two outs on the board. He bounced a single up the middle to plate two more runs, extending the lead to 5-0.

The Wildcats kept the Hokies off the board until the bottom of the fifth when they came back with a six-run inning.

Nick Biddison took a chance at a small-ball play that was picked up by Will Reiner, but his throw to first was astray, allowing Biddison to reach and bringing a runner in to cut the Villanova lead to four. Both Gavin Cross and Tanner Schobel delivered RBI singles right after, making it a 5-3 contest as Villanova turned to the bullpen to bring Cole Patten (3-7) in for Tyler Arella. The starter struck out four Hokies in his four innings pitched, scattering seven hits.

Patten struck out the first batter he faced, but the Hokies pulled off a double steal to put runners in scoring position for Conor Hartigan. He singled to center to score Cross, getting Virginia Tech within one. Another run came across on a Cade Hunter groundout, but it was Eduardo Malinowski who gave the Hokies their first lead on an RBI double to right. Patten stopped any further damage in the frame, sending Lucas Donlon down swinging to leave the score at 6-5.

The Hokies posted another six-spot in the seventh to blow the game open, all with two outs on the board.

Hunter started the scoring fury with a home run to left to make it 7-5. After walking a second runner onto base, Patten’s night came to an end with Patrick Montfort heading in to pitch. DeMartini hit a shot toward first that was gobbled up by O’Reilly but his throw to Montfort at the bag went past the pitcher, bringing a runner across. Biddison delivered a triple off the wall in left center on the second pitch he faced, plating two and pushing the Hokies lead to 10-5. Cross reached on a throwing error to score another run before Schobel hit an RBI single to right, pushing the score to 12-5.

Cade Udell made his way in from the bullpen in the eighth with two on via walks. Another walk loaded the bases for the Hokies who plated a pair of runs on a hit by pitch and a walk with just one out on the board. The Wildcats tried to work a double play to end the frame, but the throw to first was not in time, pushing the score to 15-5.

The series closes out tomorrow with a 2 pm first pitch from Blacksburg.

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