NORFOLK, Va. (Feb. 24, 2013) – Junior Ross Costello (Egg Harbor Township, N.J.) hit a grand slam in the top of the first to set the tone, as Rutgers baseball pounded out 16 hits in a 17-7 rout over Old Dominion in game two of a doubleheader Sunday at the Metheny Baseball Complex. The Scarlet Knights took the series despite dropping the first game of the twin bill to the Monarchs, 4-3.
With the results, Rutgers moves to 2-4 after two weekends of competition. ODU is 2-3 on the season.
GAME TWO RECAP
The 17 runs scored were the most by the Scarlet Knights on the road since plating 20 at FIU March 13, 2010. RU last scored 17 in a game versus Cincinnati April 16, 2011 at Bainton Field. All nine players scored at least one run in the game, with 19 players on the roster seeing action on the field.
Junior second baseman Nick Favatella (Washington Township, N.J.) reached base in five of six plate appearances, recording four hits and four runs to spark the offense from the second spot in the order. Sophomore outfielder Vinny Zarrillo (Forked River, N.J.) also notched four hits for a career-high to keep up his torrid hitting in the early season to go with three runs. He is batting .458 through the first six games.
Combining with his grand slam, Costello notched a career-high six RBIs in the win from the seven-hole of the order. Senior catcher Jeff Melillo (Annandale, N.J.) brought in four runs of his own, while junior Lou Clemente (Union, N.J.) had a breakout game knocking in three runs as the designated hitter.
On the mound, freshman Howie Brey (Middletown, N.J.) (1-0) was sharp in middle relief to earn his first career win with four strikeouts. The left-hander tossed four innings with only two hits and two runs allowed, retiring the last eight batters he faced. Junior right-hander Slater McCue (Radnor, Pa.) sat down all six batters he faced to end the game.
Brushing aside the loss in game one of the doubleheader quickly, Rutgers pounced on Old Dominion for five runs in the top of the first. Junior shortstop Pat Sweeney (Sparta, N.J.) started it off with a walk and immediately advanced to third on a single from Favatella. Loading the bases, junior outfielder Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.) walked to set the stage for the middle of the order. Following a lineout, Zarrillo kept up his approach with an RBI single down the left field line to score Sweeney for the first run of the game. Then with two outs, Costello drove a 1-0 pitch over the fence in left-center for a grand slam. It was the second career home run for the third baseman, with the other coming at FAU last season.
The Scarlet Knights tacked on another run in the second to knock out ODU starter Tommy Alexander. Senior first baseman Bill Hoermann (Toms River, N.J.) walked to leadoff and eventually came in to score when Melillo was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. That forced the Monarchs to dip into their bullpen in just in the second inning.
ODU chipped into the six-run deficit by collecting two runs on five hits in the second. A double by Michael Perez brought home Ben Slaton for the first run and Pat Kane delivered an RBI single to score him two batters later. The Monarchs still had the bases loaded with only one out, but RU starter Charlie Law (Mainland, N.J.) buckled down and struck out the next two to retire the side with limited damage.
The Monarchs rallied for three more in the third to make it 6-5. Jordan Negrini tripled to start the inning and came in on a two-out double by Connor Myers. Kane followed with a clean two-run single up the middle to bring the home team within one run. However, that was as close as they would get.
With the lead cut to one, Rutgers posted another five-spot in the top of the fourth. Favatella singled with one out to get it going, with O’Grady following with his third walk of the day. Then Melillo rocketed one off the fence in left field to bring home both runners, making it 7-5. The rally was not done there, as Zarrillo and senior outfielder Steve Zavala (Randolph, N.J.) both walked to force another ODU pitching change. Costello grounded out to the pitcher in his at bat, but far enough towards first base to bring home Melillo for the third run of the inning. Clemente capped the inning with his second double of the twin bill, scoring one more in the process.
With the lead once again at six, Brey entered in relief in the bottom of the fourth and set the Monarchs down in order. Favatella made a nice lunging play in the hole at second base to record the first out.
The offensive explosion continued in the fifth inning with four more runs for Rutgers. Favatella notched his third single of the game to begin the rally, with Melillo singling to move him up. Zarrillo collected another RBI single through the right side and Zavala followed with an RBI hit of his own. Then with runners on the corners and one out, Costello grounded up the middle for what seemed like a potential double play ball, but ODU misplayed the exchange to give Costello another RBI with Zarrillo scoring. Clemente added a two-run single to the rally.
ODU made it 15-7 on a two-run homer by Perez, but RU got one of those runs back in the sixth. Favatella picked up his fourth hit of the game – a triple – to start the frame and came home two batters later on a sacrifice fly by Melillo. It was the fourth RBI of the game from the catcher.
Clemente scored in the seventh on a two-out single by O’Grady, as he was the final player in the starting nine to cross the plate. In his second start for RU, Clemente went 2-for-5 with three RBIs and a walk.
The Scarlet Knights scored in six of the first seven innings and batted around in both the fourth and fifth frames. Coming into the game, the season-high for runs through the first five games was four in the opener at Miami.
Alexander (0-1) took the loss for Old Dominion in his first collegiate appearance.
GAME ONE RECAP
In a close game throughout, ODU came up with a run in the bottom of the eighth and held off a late rally from RU to take the opener of the doubleheader. The loss snapped the Scarlet Knights’ eight-game winning streak over Old Dominion.
Hoermann, Law and Sweeney all recorded multiple-hit games for Rutgers, as the team collected 12 for the game.
The Monarchs started the scoring in the game with a two-out single through the left side from Jordan Negrini to plate Austin McGown. McGown collected the first hit of the day with a double to right-center.
Rutgers tried to push the envelope in the second when Zarrillo reached first via an error, but he was thrown out attempting to make third base on a single by Law. ODU left fielder Josh Eldridge made an accurate throw to the bag to quell the RU rally.
The Scarlet Knights were able to tie the score in the third, mostly in part to a beautiful bunt laid down by Hoermann. Costello worked a walk to start the inning and moved up to second after a passed ball. Then Hoermann, attempting to sacrifice, placed a bunt right down the third base line that could not be fielded for a single. Sweeney took advantage of the opportunity one batter later by lacing an RBI single to right field to score Costello and tie the game. ODU escaped further damaged in the frame by inducing a double play and groundout to keep it knotted at one.
The Monarchs rallied in the bottom of the third by putting two runners on base via single. The two moved into scoring position with two outs, but Zarrillo made a nice one-handed grab in left on flare to prevent ODU from bringing home two.
Strong defense helped RU starter Tyler Gebler (Toms River, N.J.) get out of the fourth inning unscathed. With two on and no out, the right-hander pounced off the mound an attempted sacrifice bunt to force the runner at third for the first out. Then the next batter hit a chopper to third, with Costello fielding and firing to Favatella to start a 5-4-3 double play to escape the jam.
ODU retook the lead in the fifth on a pair of two-out hits. McGowan singled to start the frame and stayed there until Ben Slaton came up with one out. Slaton then connected for an RBI double to dead center to bring McGown in all the way in from first. Next, Joey Burney roped a ball to right-center to score pinch runner Brian Beard to put ODU up 3-1.
That lead would not last long for Old Dominion, as RU followed with some two-out hitting of its own. Favatella started it off with a clean single and moved up to second on a groundout. Melillo then worked a long count into a walk to put two on with one out. However, ODU starter Ryan Yarbrough picked up a key strikeout of Zarrillo for the second out. Then on the first pitch, Law came through with a solid single to right to chase home Favatella for a run. Zavala continued the rally with a rip through the left side to score Melillo for the tying run. That forced ODU to make a pitching change with the score at 3-3.
Gebler allowed a leadoff single to start the sixth, but worked out it unharmed. With a left-handed batter up with two outs and a runner at second, head coach Fred Hill elected to let the senior stay on the mound. Gebler rewarded the decision by inducing an easy two-hopper to second base to keep the score tied.
After senior Rob Corsi (Oceanport, N.J.) worked a quick seventh inning in relief, Rutgers looked poised to take the lead in the next half. Clemente led off with a double to deep right-center, his first career hit for the Scarlet Knights. Melillo advanced him to third on a deep fly out with Zarrillo coming to the plate. The sophomore then hit a sharp grounder to ODU second baseman Pat Kane, who fired home to cut down Clemente at the plate for the second out. A strikeout ended the threat.
Immediately following, ODU came through with a pair of hits to take the lead. Pinch hitter Ben Verlander connected for a leadoff triple to right-center off Corsi and scored on batter later on a sharp single up the middle by Alex Kowalczyk, making it 4-3 in favor of the hosts. Junior right-hander Charlie Lasky (Freehold, N.J.) came in from the bullpen to get out of the inning without any more runs scoring.
The Scarlet Knights recorded three singles in the top of the ninth – with one caught stealing – to put the pressure on, but Brandon Smith retired Favatella on a fly ball to right to earn his first save of the season.
Despite allowing 10 hits, Gebler allowed just three earned runs in his six innings on the mound. The right-hander did not walk a batter and picked up two strikeouts in a no-decision.
Corsi (0-2) took the loss out of the bullpen, while Brad Gero (1-0) picked up the win for the hosts.
The Scarlet Knights will continue on the road next weekend, taking on nationally-ranked Georgia Tech in a three-game series in Atlanta. The first game of the set will be played Friday, March 1 at 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN3.