PISCATAWAY, N.J. (May 17, 2012) – Junior Tyler Gebler (Toms River, N.J.) pitched his second complete game in three starts, while classmate Patrick Kivlehan (West Nyack, N.Y.) and sophomore Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.) each homered to lead Rutgers University baseball to a series-opening win over Villanova University, 11-1, on Thursday at Bainton Field. Kivlehan also drove in five runs, as the Scarlet Knights had three innings with at least three runs scored.
Gebler (3-4) worked ahead in the count throughout the afternoon and tied his career high with eight strikeouts, while not allowing a walk. The right-hander did not permit a hit after the fourth inning, retiring 13 hitters in a row during one stretch in the middle innings. He lowered his season ERA to 4.37 after surrendering just one run in the 121-pitch outing.
Kivlehan, who is a candidate for BIG EAST Player of the Year, tied his career-high with the five RBIs and slugged his conference-leading 14th home run of the season, the first to the opposite field. His total ties him with Frank Meade (2006) for third on the single-season school long ball list.
Rutgers (29-23, 14-11 BIG EAST) jumped out to a 4-0 lead after one inning to take control of the game, blasting two home runs in the frame. O’Grady led off with a shot over the wall in right field for his first career homer to give RU the advantage. Sophomore Nick Favatella (Washington Township, N.J.) and junior Jeff Melillo (Annandale, N.J.) then each walked to setup the lined smash over the wall in right by Kivlehan.
Villanova (28-25, 10-15 BIG EAST) responded with one run on a pair of doubles in the second to make the score 4-1.
The score stayed that way until the bottom of the fourth when the Scarlet Knights put up three more runs to open up the game. Junior Charlie Law (Mainland, N.J.) started off the rally with a single to left field and beat out a potential force play at second on an executed sacrifice bunt by junior Bill Hoermann (Toms River, N.J.). Sophomore Joe D’Annunzio (Scotch Plains, N.J.) then laid down a sacrifice bunt of his own to put two in scoring position, with both runners coming across on a double by sophomore Pat Sweeney (Sparta, N.J.). The third score of the inning was unearned, as O’Grady ran in from third on an errant pickoff throw with Favatella on first base.
Four tack-on runs were plated in the bottom of the eighth, highlighted by a pair of two-run doubles from Favatella and Kivlehan. The inning started on a pair of singles from Hoermann and D’Annunzio to put runners on the corners. Two batters later, Favatella laced a two-bagger down the right field line with two down, followed by Melillo being hit by a pitch. Kivlehan then hit another rocket to right field, this time clipping the top of the fence to drive in a pair to bring his season RBI total to 49.
With the run support in hand, Gebler struck out two batters looking in the ninth to seal the victory.
Left-hander Kyle Helisek (3-7) took the loss for the visitors.
Junior Rob Smorol (Clark, N.J.) will look to clinch the series for Rutgers in game two of the series on Friday, May 18 at 1 p.m. at Bainton Field. Pat Young is scheduled to pitch for the Wildcats.
It was the second time this season RU hit two homers in the same inning (4/28 at Cincinnati – Melillo and Kivlehan) … Gebler did not allow a walk in a start for the third time this season … fifth career complete game for Gebler … Kivlehan hit a home run at home for the sixth time this year … Melillo and Steve Zavala each recorded two walks … Melillo and Kivlehan have reached base safely in 30 and 24-straight games, respectively … D’Annunzio had his eighth multiple-hit game of the season … Kivlehan also had five RBIs at Georgetown (3/31) … it was the 17th game in which RU did not commit an error … there had only been one homer to right field at Bainton Field this season (Chris Rasky, WVU) until the two today … the game was played on a sunny, 70-degree day.
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