CLEARWATER, Fla. (May 22, 2012) – Four members of the Rutgers University baseball team were named All-BIG EAST, as announced by the conference at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 BIG EAST Championships on Tuesday at Bright House Field. Juniors Patrick Kivlehan (West Nyack, N.Y.) and Jeff Melillo (Annandale, N.J.) were both named to the First Team, while sophomore Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.) and junior Rob Smorol (Clark, N.J.) each earned a spot on the Third Team.
It is the 12th time in the Fred Hill era (1984-present) that Rutgers has placed at least four members on All-Conference Teams.
Kivlehan, who also won BIG EAST Player of the Year, was the only unanimous selection on the First Team. He becomes the first RU third baseman to place on the top squad since Jake Daubert in 2000. In his first season with the team, the junior won the league triple crown (.402, 10, 36) for the first time in conference history.
“Patrick winning BIG EAST Player of the Year is just an amazing accomplishment as far as I’m concerned,” said Hill, who is in his 29th season as head coach. “Not having played baseball in four years and to do the things he did is a testament to his hard work. He was also a lifesaver for our team because one of our better players, Russ Hopkins, was injured the day before practice started and he picked up right where Russ left off. He’s got to be very proud of himself, the coaches certainly are proud of his accomplishment.”
Melillo becomes the first catcher to be named First Team All-BIG EAST in program history. A staple in the middle of the order, he finished the regular season hitting .322 with four home runs and 30 RBIs. The catcher threw out 19 runners behind the plate and maintained a .984 fielding percentage.
“It is a great accomplishment anytime you make First Team,” said Hill. “Jeff had a good year and did a solid job behind the plate for us, especially throwing out runners. He also hit the ball well and provided pop in the middle of our batting order.”
Smorol earned a spot on the Third Team as a starting pitcher, leading the BIG EAST with six conference victories in nine starts. Compiling an 8-3 record overall, he was the only RU hurler to make a start in each of the 14 weekend series, with a 3.24 ERA, 89.0 innings and 51 strikeouts during the year. The left-hander also held opponents to a .240 batting average and capped the regular season with a complete game three-hit shutout against Villanova at Bainton Field.
“Rob had an outstanding record this season and was a consistent part of our weekend pitching rotation,” said Hill. “He had some tremendous outings and has a chance to be drafted this year. I know there are some scouts that like him because he is not only an outstanding pitcher, but an excellent competitor as well.”
O’Grady joins the Third Team after putting together a break-through sophomore season. As the leadoff hitter, he batted .307 on 66 hits with 28 RBIs and a .408 on-base percentage to spark the second-highest scoring offense in the league. He played in all 54 regular season contests and made 165 putouts in centerfield, making numerous run-saving grabs throughout the season.
“I think Brian has come into his own this year as a sophomore,” said Hill. “He did a great job as our leadoff guy in addition to his play in centerfield. Brian made some outstanding catches and I think he deserves this honor and maybe a little bit more.”
It was the first BIG EAST All-Conference honor for each of the four players. The All-BIG EAST team is complied after a vote of the 12 league head coaches, with skippers not being able to vote for their own players.
Click here to view the full BIG EAST release with complete teams.
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