JERSEY CITY, N.J. (May 30, 2012) – Junior third baseman Patrick Kivlehan (West Nyack, N.Y.) of the Rutgers University baseball team has been named the 2012 New Jersey Collegiate Baseball Association (NJCBA) Division I Player of the Year, as voted by the organization’s member coaches. In addition, seven Scarlet Knights were placed on the All-State teams, including junior Rob Smorol (Clark, N.J.), sophomore Nick Favatella (Washington Township, N.J.), junior Jeff Melillo (Annandale, N.J.), sophomore Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.), senior Ryan Fasano (Stony Point, N.Y.), senior Willie Beard (Milltown, N.J.) and junior Steve Zavala (Randolph, N.J.).
Rutgers and Fairleigh Dickinson were the most-honored programs each with eight total accolades between the teams and major awards.
Kivlehan, who also won the BIG EAST Player of the Year, took home five weekly honors from the NJCBA, including Player of the Week on four occasions and Rookie of the Week once. The third baseman won the first league triple crown in BIG EAST history (.402, 10, 36) in his first season playing baseball after a successful four-year career for the RU football team. Kivlehan batted .423 with two home runs in seven games against teams from New Jersey. Overall, he batted .392 with 14 home runs and 50 RBIs, to go with a .693 slugging percentage and .480 on-base percentage.
Smorol earned First Team All-State as a starting pitcher, compiling an 8-4 record with a 3.46 ERA. The left-hander led the BIG EAST with six league wins during the season and struck out 53 hitters in 93.2 innings. The only RU pitcher to make a start in each of the 14 weekend series, he was named Third Team All-BIG EAST and won NJCBA Pitcher of the Week on March 12 after allowing one earned run with seven strikeouts in a win at Florida Atlantic. Smorol capped the regular season with a three-hit complete game shutout against Villanova on May 18 at Bainton Field.
Favatella was also a First Team selection, representing the Scarlet Knights at second base. He was the only RU player to start all 56 games during the season and broke through with a .333 batting average, 54 runs and 42 RBIs in his sophomore season. Favatella additionally slugged five home runs, including a walk-off shot in the bottom of the ninth inning to defeat Princeton, 12-11, at Bainton Field on April 3. The second baseman had a streak during the season in which he reached base safely in 32-straight games.
Melillo adds First Team All-State to his collection after already earning First Team All-BIG EAST at catcher. Added to the Johnny Bench Award Watch List on May 10, he emerged as both an offensive and defensive threat for Rutgers. He batted .311 with a .426 slugging percentage from the middle of the order and threw out 19 runners attempting to steal. Melillo also crushed four home runs and knocked in 30 runs in 51 games played.
O’Grady rounds out the First Team selections for RU, making the squad as an outfielder. The leadoff hitter in the lineup, he collected 69 hits, 32 walks and scored 47 runs. He also had 18 extra base hits, including his first career home run against Villanova on May 17. The centerfielder made 172 putouts in the outfield on a .978 fielding percentage, earning Third Team All-BIG EAST as an outfielder.
In his final season for Rutgers, Fasano led the pitching staff with a 3.34 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 97.0 innings on the mound to make Second Team All-State as a starter. The right-hander won five BIG EAST games and tossed three complete games during the year. He earned starts on four different days as a versatile pitcher, making 16 appearances and 14 starts as a senior.
Beard, a Second Team selection as a relief pitcher, proved to be one of the more durable and effective relievers out of the bullpen for RU this season. The right-hander worked to a 3.95 ERA in 24 appearances, with four wins and 31 strikeouts in 43.1 innings. In one of his more memorable stints in 2012, he escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the bottom of the ninth at Cincinnati to put the game into extra inning and eventually win it.
Zavala, an outfielder, also earned a spot on the Second Team after appearing in 55 games as a right fielder. He collected 53 hits and 38 RBIs in his junior campaign, including 11 RBIs during one week in April. A constant in the middle of the order, Zavala walked 22 times and made just one error in 87 chances in the field (.989).
Juniors Ross Costello (Egg Harbor Township, N.J.) (March 12) and Rob Corsi (Oceanport, N.J.) (March 19) also won NJCBA Player and Pitcher of the Week, respectively, throughout the course of the season.
Each year, the NJCBA selects a Division I and Division II/III All-State team based on voting by the coaches of the 25 college and universities in the state. Division I consists of Fairleigh Dickinson, Monmouth, NJIT, Princeton, Rider, Rutgers, Saint Peters and Seton Hall. Division II/III is comprised of Bloomfield, Caldwell, Centenary, Drew, FDU-Florham, Felician, Kean, Montclair State, New Jersey City, Ramapo, Richard Stockton, Rowan, Rutgers-Camden, Rutgers-Newark, Stevens, The College of New Jersey and William Paterson.
Click here to view the full NJCBA release with complete teams.
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