PISCATAWAY, N.J. (May 18, 2012) – Junior Rob Smorol (Clark, N.J.) pitched a complete game three-hit shutout to lead Rutgers University baseball to its second-straight win over Villanova University, 6-0, on Friday at Bainton Field. It was the first career complete game win for the left-hander and third overall, as he won his sixth game against a BIG EAST opponent this season.
With the victory, Rutgers (30-23, 15-11) reached the 30-win plateau for the 14th time in the Fred Hill era. The Scarlet Knights remain in sixth place in the standings, with potential to move up depending on the action from around the league later in the day.
Smorol (8-3), who now has 17 career wins, matched nine former RU hurlers with his eighth victory of the season for the sixth-most wins in a single year in Rutgers baseball history. On Friday, he struck out three and walked one in the 125-pitch outing, inducing 16 fly outs to control the game throughout.
The Scarlet Knights collected 11 hits on the afternoon, with eight of the nine starters recording a base knock. Junior Charlie Law (Mainland, N.J.) led the offense with two singles and two RBIs at designated hitter, while sophomore Nick Favatella (Washington Township, N.J.) also had two hits in reaching base four times. Junior Patrick Kivlehan (West Nyack, N.Y.) reached base safely in four of five plate appearances after drawing three walks, two of which were intentional.
Rutgers scored first for the second-straight day with three runs in the second inning to take the lead, all the run support Smorol would end up needing. With one out, junior Bill Hoermann (Toms River, N.J.) singled down the first base line and moved up to second on a walk by sophomore Joe D’Annunzio (Scotch Plains, N.J.). Classmate Pat Sweeney (Sparta, N.J.) then lined a double to left field to score Hoermann for the first run of the afternoon. D’Annunzio next scored on a grounder to third that was dropped by the catcher for an unearned run. The next batter, Favatella, shot a ball through the left side with the runners in motion to bring home Sweeney from second to cap the rally.
In the fourth inning, the Scarlet Knights added another run on a two-out RBI single by junior Steve Zavala (Randolph, N.J.). Favatella singled with one-out and one batter later, Kivlehan laced a single to left-center to put two on with two outs. Zavala then came through with a base knock through the right side to bring home Favatella for his 37th RBI of the season.
The success with two outs continued in the sixth on a clutch two-run single by Law with the bases loaded to expand the lead to 6-0. Sophomore Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.) led off with a single up the middle and Favatella was hit by a pitch to put two on with no outs. After junior Jeff Melillo (Annandale, N.J.) laid down a sacrifice bunt, Kivlehan was intentionally walked to fill the base paths. The Wildcats then recorded a strikeout, but Law picked up the Scarlet Knights with a lined single to left to bring home two and break the game open.
Smorol sat down the last nine hitters he faced in order to seal the fourth BIG EAST series win for RU and sixth of the season.
Pat Young (6-5) took the loss for Villanova (28-26, 10-16 BIG EAST), who clings to the eighth and final playoff berth.
Senior Ryan Fasano (Stony Point, N.Y.) will look to sweep away the Wildcats in the series finale on Saturday at 1 p.m. It will be the final game of the season at Bainton Field, as the program will honor Fasano, Willie Beard (Milltown, N.J.), Russ Hopkins (Piscataway, N.J.), Kivlehan and Dan Perrine (Scotch Plains, N.J.) in a ceremony prior to the first pitch.
The contest will be broadcast on tape delay on RVision, presented by AT&T, with Danny Breslauer and Hopkins on the call. WRSU will carry the game live on 88.7-FM and at wrsu.rutgers.edu.
RU has not went to the bullpen in this series, as Gebler also pitched a complete game in the opener … Corsi and Fasano pitched back-to-back complete games earlier this season (3/18 at Stetson, 3/21 Rider) … it was the third shutout of the year and second against a BIG EAST opponent (4/21 at Connecticut) … Smorol’s two complete games last season were in losses … Melillo and Kivlehan have reached base safely in 31 and 25-straight games, respectively … Kivlehan is batting .400 for the season and can clinch the league triple crown tomorrow (.404, 10, 35) – it would be the first time in conference history the feat has been achieved … RU is now 13-6 at home … the game was played on a 72-degree and sunny afternoon.
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