PISCATAWAY, N.J. (May 4, 2013) – Behind strong pitching performances from seniors Charlie Law (Mainland, N.J.) and Nathaniel Roe (Plainfield, N.J.), combined with a balanced offensive attack, Rutgers baseball evened the series with a 9-4 victory over Connecticut Saturday at Bainton Field. The rubber game is set for Sunday at 1 p.m.
The victory put the Scarlet Knights back over .500 in the BIG EAST at 9-8, while the Huskies fell to 9-11.
Law (4-5) earned his fourth win of the season by striking out five over 5.1 innings on the mound, surrendering three earned runs. He also helped his cause at the plate with four RBIs, including a three-run double in the first inning.
Freshman Matt Tietz (West Milford, N.J.) reached base in four of five trips to provide a jolt to the lineup, scoring four times when leading off an inning. Senior Jeff Melillo (Annandale, N.J.) also had a productive afternoon with three RBIs, as classmate Steve Zavala (Randolph, N.J.) drew three walks and singled. The offense efficiently took advantage of opportunities by collecting four sacrifice bunts and three sacrifice flies.
Rutgers (21-25) jumped up 3-0 in the first inning on a two-out RBI double to right-center by Law. Tietz, sophomore Vinny Zarrillo (Forked River, N.J.) and Zavala all walked to setup the rally.
Law settled in early and threw just 23 pitches (20 strikes) through the first three innings to seize the momentum. However, the Huskies struck back with a pair of runs on a single up the middle by LJ Mazzilli to cut it to 3-2 in the fourth.
In the bottom of the fifth, RU batted around and plated three to take back command of the game. Tietz doubled into the left field corner to start and forced UConn to dip into their bullpen. Favatella followed with his second sacrifice bunt of the day to move Tietz to third, as Connecticut next decided to walk Zarrillo intentionally to put runners at the corners with one out. Melillo took advantage of the chance and laced an RBI single the other way for the first run. Zavala walked to load the bases, with Law producing a sacrifice fly to score Zarrillo. Junior Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.) capped the rally with a two-out RBI single up the middle to drive in Melillo and make it 6-2.
Connecticut (28-20) did not back down and scored two runs in the following frame to make it 6-4. With the bases loaded and one out, Roe entered the game and picked up a strikeout and lineout to strand all three inherited runners to keep the lead.
Two insurance runs came in to score in the bottom of the sixth, with Melillo driving home Tietz on a sacrifice fly and Zavala knocking in Favatella on a chopper up the middle. The final run scored in the eighth on another sacrifice fly from Melillo.
Roe closed out the ninth with little drama to earn his fourth save of the season. He ended up surrendering just one hit and one walk over 3.2 scoreless frames.
The Scarlet Knights put a loss on Anthony Marzi (3-5) for the second straight year, tagging him for four earned runs and five walks over four-plus innings. The Huskies’ bullpen also permitted five runs.
The series finale features a pair of closers scheduled to start, with senior Rob Corsi (Oceanport, N.J.) going up against Jordan Tabakman. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Bainton Field and will be broadcast on WRSU.