PISCATAWAY, N.J. (April 18, 2013) – Having won its four of its last five games, Rutgers baseball will travel to face No. 25 Pittsburgh in a three-game series at Charles L. Cost Field this weekend. It will be the eighth road set overall for RU and fourth at a ranked opponent.
The Scarlet Knights (18-16, 8-4) and Panthers (26-10, 6-3) have each won two-thirds of their BIG EAST games, as Louisville and USF sit atop the standings at 7-2. RU is 5-1 in conference road games this season.
Game 35: Friday, April 19
First Pitch: 6 p.m.
Rutgers Starter: LHP Rob Smorol (4-2, 2.67)
Pittsburgh Starter: RHP Ethan Mildren (6-2, 2.48)
Live Stats: GameTracker
Game 36: Saturday, April 20
First Pitch: 3 p.m.
Rutgers Starter: RHP Tyler Gebler (3-4, 3.54)
Pittsburgh Starter: RHP Matt Wotherspoon (5-1, 2.98)
Live Stats: GameTracker
Game 37: Sunday, April 21
First Pitch: Noon
Rutgers Starter: RHP Charlie Law (3-3, 5.33)
Pittsburgh Starter: TBA
Live Stats: GameTracker
- RU mostly recently defeated Lafayette (14-8) and Monmouth (7-6) to move to two games over .500 for the first time this year … against the Leopards, freshman Reed Shuttle (Lansdale, Pa.) became first freshman to start a game for RU since 2010 (span of 138 games) … RU scored five runs in the sixth to break open an 8-8 tie, as all nine hitters reached base safely at least twice … sophomore Jon Young (Old Bridge, N.J.) had a career-long outing of 4.2 scoreless innings to earn his first career win … against the Hawks, senior Charlie Law (Mainland, N.J.) and junior Ross Costello (Egg Harbor Township, N.J.) both had RBI hits in the fifth to push the Scarlet Knights ahead 7-5 … freshman Howie Brey (Middletown, N.J.) pitched the final 3.1 innings scoreless to pick up his first career save.
- Team has drawn 49 walks over last six games … picked up just 12 stolen bases in first 20 games, but stole 20 in last 14 … 12 extra base hits in last two games … reached double-digit hits 17 times … 15-2 when scoring first in a game.
- The Scarlet Knights will use the same starting pitching rotation for the 10th straight weekend ... the group has pitched to a 2.53 ERA over 85.1 conference innings … for the season, the trio has combined for 57 percent of the total team innings for the season (169.0).
- Senior Rob Smorol (Clark, N.J.) will make his 39th career start in the first game of the series, which will move him into third in school history … the left-hander is tied for fourth in RU history with Noel Gluck (1985-88) with 21 career wins … has six quality starts in nine chances in 2013 … has worked to a 1.85 ERA over last six starts … allowed only seven extra base hits out of 54 hits surrendered … needs three strikeouts to move into third in school history (has 181) … third in program history with 281.0 career innings pitched … Third Team All-BIG EAST in 2012.
- Senior Tyler Gebler (Toms River, N.J.) is second in program history with 283.2 innings pitched … making 36th career start, which will tie him for seventh in RU history … worked a complete game in two of the last three outings … has seven career complete games … has allowed just two walks in BIG EAST play (tied for the least) and nine overall (second least) … tossed the most BIG EAST innings amongst league pitchers so far (30.1) … sixth in school history with 153 strikeouts.
- Law leads the Scarlet Knights with 50 strikeouts on the mound and 29 RBIs at the plate … has pitched to a 2.50 ERA over last six starts … already with a career-high for starts in a season (nine) … has allowed only seven extra base hits out of 56 surrendered … over 100 pitches in five of last six appearances … picked up at least one RBI in 11 of the last 12 games (18 in that span).
- Junior Nick Favatella (Washington Township, N.J.) has started the last 121 game dating back to his freshman season (16th longest active streak in the nation) … recorded 100th career run scored against Monmouth … also active team leader with 156 hits … hits in 13 of last 14 games … second in the BIG EAST in total conference bases (29) … has committed one error over last 106 chances.
- Senior Rob Corsi (Oceanport, N.J.) has earned a save in each of his last four appearances … has permitted just two earned runs over last 12.2 innings (six appearances).
- Sophomore Vinny Zarrillo (Forked River, N.J.) has had eight games with at least three hits this season … hitting .417 over last six games … recorded eight straight successful stolen bases before being caught against Monmouth … RBIs in six of the last seven games … fourth in the BIG EAST with a .367 batting average, hitting .395 in league games (fifth-best) … has batted cleanup since conference play started.
- Junior Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.) is 10th in the BIG EAST with 22 walks … hits in 20 of last 56 at bats (.357) during team-high 14 game hitting streak earlier in the season … started every game in center field … Third Team All-BIG EAST in 2012.
- Senior Jeff Melillo (Annandale, N.J.) has started 31 games at catcher … leads BIG EAST with 12 runners caught stealing ... also has three pickoffs … no errors in last 123 chances … drawn 11 walks over last 10 games.
- Junior Pat Sweeney (Sparta, N.J.) has played errorless ball in his last 13 games at shortstop … has collected a hit in five of the last six games played.
- Freshman Matt Tietz (West Milford, N.J.) has started the last 24 games at third base … six extra base hits in last six games … 10 doubles to tie for team lead … seven sacrifice bunts to tie for sixth in the conference.
- Senior Steve Zavala (Randolph, N.J.) went 6-for-9 in the midweek games with four runs … eight walks over last six games … has played in 149 games for Rutgers.
The Panthers enter the weekend at 15-3 at home and rank first in the BIG EAST in runs scored (290), hits (381) and home runs (37). The program moved to No. 25 in the Collegiate Baseball publication in the latest release, having swept Notre Dame at home last weekend. Steven Shelinsky Jr. has pounded out 11 home runs to lead to the conference, while Casey Roche is first with 50 RBIs. On the mound, reigning BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week Ethan Mildren will start the opener of the series after hurling a three-hit shutout last time against the Fighting Irish. Joe Jordano is in his 15th year as head coach, as the program will move to the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.
Rutgers and Pittsburgh come into the weekend with only one common opponent so far, VCU. RU went 1-1 in a midweek series against the Rams, while Pitt lost in a neutral site matchup.
Rutgers holds a 28-15 advantage in the series, but Pittsburgh has won five of the last six meetings. Last season at Bainton Field, Gebler tossed a complete to help RU win the opener before the Panthers rallied to win the final two. Pitt earned the eighth and final spot at the BIG EAST Championships by virtue of Rutgers sweeping Villanova in the last weekend of the season in 2012.
Rutgers will take on Delaware (away) and Wagner (home) in midweek action before flying out to Omaha, Neb., next weekend to take part in the TD Ameritrade Classic at the site of the College World Series.