PLYMOUTH MEETING, PA. 5/5/2102 – The Villanova Wildcats came into this weekend series against Notre Dame playing their best baseball of the season. The Wildcats were 8 – 2 over the last ten games, and they were competing for a place in the Big East Tournament. What made this game special was that it was Alumni and Fan Appreciation Day. This is the chance for the former players to come back and visit the program that is part of them. To have a dy of this nature shows continuity, and that Villanova baseball is a program, not just an activity.
“Our program is the third oldest program in the country,” said Villanova Coach Joe Godri. “We’ve been playing baseball here since 1866. It’s important for the current and former players to be a part of the program. I tell the guys four years you play for this team, but you’re part of it for a lifetime.”
The significance of the day is not lost on the current senior class which see the day from a players perspective today, and will from an alumni perspective in the near future. The warmth and appreciation of teh team is expressed by Senior shortstop Marlon Calbi, named to the Big East Honor Roll this week.
“”It’s good to see everybody come back and support us,” Calbi said. “At Villanova we feel it’s important to have those guys come back and show support. we feel that on the field, we’re underdogs. We’re underdogs all of the time. That’s the way we feel. When we see those players we played with, it’s a good feeling.”
Unfortunately, Villanova ran into a masterful performance by Notre Dame pitcher Adam Norton as The Irish beat the Wildcats 6 – 0 at the Villanova Ballpark in Plymouth Meeting. The Junior right hander threw a complete game shutout. He posted a career high 9 strikeouts, gave up 5 hits, and did not allow a Villanova runner to reach third base. Norton improved his record to 4 – 3 this season. This was the first time Villanova was blanked this season, Calbi felt Norton was nearly unhittable.
“There was not one pitch he made that was a pitch a hitter wanted to hit,” Calbi said. “Each pitch was on the black. Every single one had us off-balance. It wasn’t our day offensively.”
“I told our guys he (Norton) had an A Plus game,” Godri explained. “He was in total command. We never got anything going. The best part about Norton’s game is he can’t pitch tomorrow.”
Villanova Sophomore Pat Young took the loss giving up 5 earned runs and 11 hits in 7.2 innings of work. Notre Dame scored twice in the 4th inning on an RBI single by right fielder Alex Robinson who later scored on an error by Villanova Senior first baseman Adam Nelson. In the 8th inning Notre Dame got back to back singles by first baseman Trey Mancini and catcher Joe Hudson. A fielder’s choice moved the runners-up, but it would not matter as center fielder Charlie Markson sent the ball over the left field fence for a 3-run home run. The right hander is 5 – 4 this season. Despite the loss Godri was pleased with Young’s performance.
“I was happy with Young,” said Godri. “He’s our top guy. He had a little trouble in the 4th inning. I told him when he came out of the game, he gave us 8 innings. He kept us in the ball game. It didn’t work out for us.”
The top eight teams go to the Big East Tournament. Villanova is in the eighth spot just behind Notre Dame, but have Pittsburgh and Georgetown on their heels. The rubber match of this even weekend series features a pitching match of right handers Max Almonte of Villanova against Pat Connaughton for Notre Dame, the same Connaughton that caused problems for the Villanova basketball team this past season. There are standings and tie-breaker implications in this game for both teams. Calbi feels this will be an important game the Wildcats need to win.
“It is a big game for us,” Calbi stated. “We’ll be coming out fired up. Hopefully, it goes our way.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian