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Seton Hall continues skid in BIG EAST home opener to Villanova

The Pirates looked to get back in the win column after dropping their first BIG EAST series to Georgetown on the road and an 8-1 loss to Rutgers on Tuesday. 

Villanova had not won a game in Big East competition prior to the series, getting swept by Georgetown and St. John’s in the last two weeks.  

Junior righty Daniel Frontera got the start in game one, and things were a bit shaky for him. He lasted just two innings in a start where he gave up four hits, two walks and struck out six Wildcat hitters in the process. 

Graduate lefty Jackson Balzan took over and kept Villanova scoreless over his three innings of work, in which he struck out three batters of his own. These shutout innings were sorely needed since the Pirates offense could only get two baserunners against freshman right-hander Jake Francis.  

That was until the sixth inning, where freshman outfielder Aiden Robbins drove in senior Jonathan Luders to tie the game, 1-1. Unfortunately, the wheels started to fall off headed into the top of the seventh inning.  

Following a scoreless inning from sophomore Michael Gillen, he allowed the leadoff hitter to reach base by error. After a steal of second base, first baseman Dylan Dennis came up and smacked a single into right field, and Pirates right fielder Cole Zak committed another error which allowed the runner to score.  

After leaving a runner stranded on third, the Pirates stormed back out to the field and looked to restrain Villanova’s offense. Wildcat catcher Josue Valdez hit his first home run of the season, though, extending the Pirate deficit to 3-1, the final score of the game.  

The Hall once again started cold, as only three players reached base in the first four innings of the second game of the series. The Wildcats, however, wasted no time scoring, earning five runs off Seton Hall starter Ryan Reich, forcing him out of the game after jjust one and 2/3 innings.  

Sophomore Anthony Ehly came in and pitched well, though a two-run home run to Villanova shortstop Michael Whooley in the fourth inning hindered the outing. Seton Hall finally responded with an RBI single from senior outfielder Devin Hack in the fifth inning.  

The final four innings saw the Wildcats score runs in the seventh and eighth innings, though the Pirates responded in the eighth with an RBI double from Hack, bringing us to the final score of 9-2. Wildcat starter Luke Mccullough earned the win as he threw six innings and allowed just one run while he struck out three batters.  

Seton Hall starter Cole Hansen and Villanova starting pitcher Devin Rivera had a pitching duel as each pitcher went seven innings. The first score of the game came in the sixth inning to an unearned run to the Wildcats. 

Villanova scored a run in the seventh and eighth innings too, with a sacrifice fly from second baseman Cameron Hassert and an RBI single from designated hitter Jason Neff. The Pirates went on to lose 3-0 to the Wildcats, ending the series in a sweep. 

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Throughout the three games in the series, the Pirates left 19 runners on base: six in each of the first two games, and seven in the series finale. 

Despite their strong start, Seton Hall currently sits at last in the BIG EAST with a 1-5 record in conference play and are now on a five-game losing skid. Villanova sits at sixth, just above the Hall and Butler, and are riding a four-game win streak.  

The Pirates will travel to Staten Island to play against Wagner on Tuesday, Apr. 16 at 7:00 pm before hosting Xavier at Mike Sheppard Sr. Stadium starting on Friday, Apr. 19 at 4:00 pm. 

John Misiewicz writes for the Setonian’s sports section. He can be reached at 


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