Szczur channels Nova's hoops title in hot start

Szczur channels Nova's hoops title in hot start

ANAHEIM -- Matt Szczur started in left field Tuesday, partly to take advantage of his right-handed bat against Angels' lefty Andrew Heaney but also to help celebrate Villanova's win in the NCAA men's basketball championship Monday night. At least, that was manager Joe Maddon's reasoning.

Szczur, who starred on the Villanova football and baseball teams, hit a three-run double on Monday in the Cubs' 9-0 win over the Angels, and came through on Tuesday, smacking a leadoff home run in the third. He also singled in the seventh and scored a run in the Cubs' 6-1 victory over the Angels.

"Villanova wins the national championship, so I thought it was a good bet for tonight," Maddon said before the game.

Cut 4: Maddon predicted Szczur's big night

"Matt Szczur is hot as a match," Cubs catcher David Ross said. "What a great bat off the bench he's been so far."

Szczur totaled eight RBIs in 47 games last year with the Cubs; he has four in two games already. He also matched his home run total from 2015. Last year, Szczur connected off the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw.

"I think there's a lot of pressure off my back," Szczur said. "I'm just trying to go out there and play and help the team win. We're here to win and coming off the bench or starting, I'll help the team win any way I can."

Told that Maddon liked the Villanova connection, Szczur smiled.

"That's good," Szczur said. "That's good that I produced, too."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.