PISCATAWAY, N.J. (May 11, 2013) – Behind two strong starts on the mound and several explosive rallies, Rutgers baseball took both ends – 17-3 and 7-1 – of a doubleheader at Bainton Field against Georgetown Saturday. The victories assured the Scarlet Knights of a spot in the 2013 BIG EAST Championships in Clearwater, Fla., later this month.
It was the first conference twinbill sweep for RU since 2009, as the team moved to 12-8 in the BIG EAST and 24-26 overall for the season. The Hoyas dropped to 5-15 and 25-23 after their first trip to Piscataway since 2009.
GAME ONE RECAP
Using seven shutout innings from senior Rob Smorol (Clark, N.J.) and 11 runs in the fifth inning, Rutgers cruised to a 17-3 victory in the opener. Eight of the nine starters recorded at least one hit, one RBI and one run in the outburst. The bats picked up a season-high 19 hits.
Smorol (5-5) picked up the victory in his final career home start by surrendering just two hits and three walks over seven scoreless frames. The left-hander has now beaten every team in the BIG EAST (plus West Virginia), earning his 22nd career victory overall to tie Bobby Brownlie for the second-most in RU history. Smorol is also just 10 innings shy of tying Casey Gaynor for the most frames worked in program record books.
Senior Steve Zavala (Randolph, N.J.) and junior Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.) led the way at the plate with three hits each, while junior Ross Costello (Egg Harbor Township, N.J.), senior Jeff Melillo (Annandale, N.J.) and sophomore Vinny Zarrillo (Forked River, N.J.) all knocked in three runs. Senior Bill Hoermann (Toms River, N.J.) and redshirt freshman John Jennings (Berkeley Heights, N.J.) both scored three times. The 17 runs produced tied a season-best also obtained in the finale at Old Dominion (Feb. 24).
The game started off as a pitcher’s duel until the Scarlet Knights broke through in the bottom of the fourth inning. Junior Nick Favatella (Washington Township, N.J.) led off with a single and advanced on a successful sacrifice bunt by Zarrillo. Following an out, Zavala stepped up and roped a clutch two-out single up the middle to plate the first run of the day.
Then in the fifth, Rutgers broke the game open with its best rally of the season, sending 16 batters to the plate to record 11 runs on nine hits. The breakthrough started immediately when O’Grady cracked his second home run of the season over the wall in right field on the first pitch. Hoermann next walked, with Jennings and freshman Matt Tietz (West Milford, N.J.) following with well-placed bunts to load the bases with no outs. After a strikeout, Zarrillo and Melillo both connected for two-run hits to up the score to 6-1. Zavala roped a single the other way for another hit, with Law notching an RBI double for the sixth run of the inning.
Batting for the second time in the frame, O’Grady collected his second RBI on a single through the right side. Hoermann and Jennings both walked to force in another run. The second out was registered on an RBI sacrifice fly by Tietz before Favatella and Zarrillo both notched RBI singles to cap the explosion. The last time RU scored double-digit runs in an inning was May 19, 2012 at home versus Villanova (10).
Two more runs were added in the seventh on a bases-loaded walk by Melillo and an RBI single by Zavala to make it 14-0. Costello added an exclamation point in the eighth on a three-run home run to left-center. It was his third long ball of the season and first at Bainton Field.
Finishing off the victory, senior Sam Hasty (Brooklyn, N.Y.) struck out two in a scoreless inning and classmate Jerry Elsing (Montville, N.J.) notched the final three outs in the ninth.
Matt Smith (3-3) suffered the loss for Georgetown.
GAME TWO RECAP
After rain delayed the start of the nightcap to 5:15 p.m., Georgetown jumped up to a 1-0 early lead before RU settled in and came back to earn a 7-1 win.
Law (5-5) recorded his second win in as many starts by surrendering just one run and three hits over seven effective frames. The right-hander picked up eight strikeouts to bring his team-leading season total to 69, tied for eighth-most in a single season in school history.
At the plate, Hoermann continued his productive doubleheader by going 3-for-4 with a run scored. Favatella also went 2-for-2 with two runs scored.
Justin Leeson connected for a home run to start off the game, but that was all the Hoyas would end up scoring off Law.
The game stayed 1-0 in favor of the visitors until RU brought home a pair of runs in the sixth. Favatella walked with one out and came home right away on a booming triple to left-center by Zarrillo. Melillo followed with a productive at bat to connect for a sacrifice fly, putting Rutgers up 2-1.
The lead was padded one inning later with five runs in the seventh, helped by two GU errors. O’Grady (walk) and Hoermann (single) both reached with no outs and moved up on an error to put the pressure on. Jennings cashed in on an RBI single the other way to make it 3-1 and Tietz walked to force a pitching change. Next up, Favatella singled and Zarrillo reached on an error to plate two more runs. Tietz came around on a wild pitch and Zavala hit another sacrifice fly to finish up the scoring.
Senior Tyler Gebler (Toms River, N.J.) wrapped up the doubleheader sweep with two scoreless innings, as he has allowed just one runner in five relief innings this season.
GU starter Matt Hollenbeck (1-6) did not permit a run until the sixth, but took the loss.
Having already won the series, Rutgers will look for its second conference sweep of the season in its home finale Sunday at 1 p.m. The program will celebrate Senior Day beforehand, with the game being broadcast live on RVision, presented by AT&T.