CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 18, 2012) – Rutgers University baseball fought toe-to-toe with No. 13 Miami deep into extra innings, but a walkoff home run from Rony Rodriguez in the bottom of the 12th inning pushed the Hurricanes past the Scarlet Knights on Saturday evening at Alex Rodriguez Park. The RU pitching staff recorded 14 strikeouts in the loss.
Junior reliever Dan O’Neill (Lake Hiawatha, N.J.) (0-1) pitched valiantly out of the bullpen for Rutgers (0-2), working 3.2 innings with five strikeouts. However, with two outs and no one on base in the bottom of the 12th, Miami’s (2-0) Dale Carey was hit by a pitch and Peter O’Brien worked a walk to setup the heroics from Rodriguez.
Rutgers had its best chance break a 1-1 deadlock in the top of the 12th inning with runners on the corners with no outs. Sophomore Nick Favatella (Washington Township, N.J.) singled to start the frame, extending his hitting streak to 13 games. After he advanced to second on a passed ball, junior catcher Jeff Melillo (Annandale, N.J.) punched a single to right field to setup up runners on the corners with no outs. Following a Miami pitching change to bring in A.J. Salcines, junior Steve Zavala (Randolph, N.J.) grounded out to put runners at second and third with one down. Sophomore Michael Zavala (Randolph, N.J.) worked a walk as a pinch hitter to load the bases, but Salcines struck out the next two batters to end the threat.
The Scarlet Knights also put together a rally in the 11th when senior Patrick Kivlehan (West Nyack, N.Y.) worked a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from sophomore Pat Sweeney (Sparta, N.J.). However, E.J. Encinosa retired the next two batters for the Hurricanes.
Senior Ryan Fasano (Stony Point, N.Y.) gave Rutgers a strong starting effort, logging 6.2 innings and six strikeouts. He scattered six hits and only allowed a first-inning homer from Carey. Sophomore Charlie Lasky (Freehold, N.J.) was effective as the first pitcher out of the bullpen for Fred Hill, working 1.1 innings with three punchouts.
RU scored its only run of the night with a two-out rally in the third inning that started when Sweeney was hit by Miami starter Eric Whaley. After he stole second, sophomore Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.) connected on a double to left-center to bring in Sweeney to tie the game.
Salcines (1-0) earned the win for the Hurricanes, while Whaley only surrendered two hits in six innings of work as the starter.
The Scarlet Knights will look to take the series finale on Sunday as junior Rob Corsi (Oceanport, N.J.) will start against Bryan Radziewski in a battle of left-handers. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Alex Rodriguez Park.
Follow Rutgers Athletics on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RutgersAthletics) and Twitter (@RUAthletics) for all of the latest news and updates. For specific updates regarding baseball, follow the program on Twitter @baseballRU. Fans can receive timely information, including special offers and giveaways throughout the year on our social media outlets along with www.ScarletKnights.com.