POTW: Villanova powers St. Laurence

BURBANK, Ill. – With contact, senior Bryan Villanova began sprinting to first base.

He had connected with a fastball, but he didn’t feel he had gotten all of the ball when it came off his aluminum bat. He was preparing himself for a fly out and just praying the ball might drop somewhere in center field.

As he rounded first, Villanova continued to run as fast as he could, and the ball hadn’t landed yet. Almost halfway to second base, Villanova looked up and couldn’t believe his eyes. The ball had soared over the fence, and he had just hit a grand slam.

The four-run homer would cap off a memorable day for Villanova. He went 2 for 4, doubled, homered, drove in six runs, score once and accounted for the game-winning hit in the Vikings’ 8-5 upset of nationally-ranked Providence on Saturday.

For his performance, Villanova is the ESPNChicago.com/Muscle Milk Prep Athlete of the Week.

“I thought it was a pop up,” said Villanova of his third home run of the season. “The wind took it. It was an incredible feeling. It was good beating them.”

Providence pitcher Charlie Naso also thought from his perspective in the dugout that Villanova’s hit wasn’t going to get out of the park.

“That was awesome,” Naso said. “That was one of the best hits I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Villanova’s offensive heroics began in the fifth inning. After striking out swinging in his first two at bats, Villanova hammered the ball into the right-field gap to drive in two runs and give St. Laurence a brief 3-2 lead.

After the Vikings allowed three runs on two errors in the top of the sixth and fell behind 5-3, Villanova came through again with the grand slam in the bottom of the sixth.

To add to his day, Villanova, a catcher, also called every pitch for Naso because St. Laurence was missing its pitching coach for the day. Naso threw a complete game and struck out eight hitters for the win.

“I can’t say enough about Bryan Villanova,” St. Laurence coach Pete Lotus said. “Bryan made all the pitching calls today. He had a lot of responsibility, and he did a great job, especially with the two hits.”