NORFOLK, Va. (Feb. 22, 2013) – Senior left-hander Rob Smorol (Clark, N.J.) pitched eight shutout innings and classmate Jeff Melillo (Annandale, N.J.) homered to lead Rutgers baseball to a 3-0 victory over Old Dominion at the Bud Metheny Complex Friday. It was the eight-straight win for the Scarlet Knights over the Monarchs.
RU improved to 1-3 on the young season, while ODU dropped to 1-2.
Making his second start of the season, Smorol (1-0) controlled all of his pitches throughout the afternoon. The left-hander struck out seven in eight innings on the mound, allowing just four hits and one walk. It was the 18th win of his RU career, tying him for seventh-most in program history.
Melillo put Rutgers out in front in the top of the second with a solo home run just inside the foul pole in right field. The long ball – which came on a 3-1 count to the opposite field – was the fifth career for the catcher and first for the Scarlet Knights this season.
The pitchers on both sides dominated in the middle innings until RU broke through to add two insurance runs in the eighth. Shortstop Pat Sweeney (Sparta, N.J.) singled with one out and scored one batter later when second baseman Nick Favatella (Washington Township, N.J.) laced an RBI double to left-center. Centerfielder Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.) then poked a double of his own down to the left field line to plate Favatella.
That was all Smorol needed, as he only had one jam with multiple runners on base at the same time (first inning) in the outing.
Senior right-hander Nathaniel Roe (Plainfield, N.J.) worked a perfect ninth inning to earn his first career save, ending the game with a strikeout.
ODU starter Dean Ali (0-1) took the loss, but only allowed one hit in five innings.
Weather permitting, the second game of the series is scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m. Senior right-hander Tyler Gebler (Toms River, N.J.) is slated to start for the Scarlet Knights.
The game was moved up to 1 p.m. due to the weather forecast and was played in cold and cloudy conditions … RU and ODU have now met on the diamond for 16-straight seasons … Smorol now has three career wins at ODU … Rutgers turned a pair of double plays up the middle … Favatella and O’Grady each stole a base.