CLEARWATER, Fla. (May 24, 2013) – Senior Tyler Gebler (Toms River, N.J.) pitched an efficient 8.1 innings and classmate Nathaniel Roe (Plainfield, N.J.) closed it out to lead No. 5 seed Rutgers baseball to a 2-1 win over No. 4 USF in an elimination game Friday at the BIG EAST Championships. It was the fifth time in six games the teams matched up, as the Scarlet Knights avenged a loss to the Bulls in their tournament opener.
The victory advances RU (28-29) to semifinals for the first time since 2010, needing two wins against No. 8 Connecticut Saturday to move to the finals. Rutgers took the series in the regular season at Bainton Field, 2-1.
Gebler (4-6) was in control from the start and needed only 80 pitches to hold the Bulls to one run in the 8.1-inning outing. He retired the first 12 batters faced, having six perfect frames in his first start since April 20. The right-hander gave up one walk and scattered five hits in the 2:11 ballgame.
Holding a one-run lead in the ninth, Gebler surrendered a leadoff single to Alex Mendez. James Ramsay then laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the tying run into scoring position, as head coach Fred Hill made the switch to Roe out of the bullpen. The senior picked up a strikeout and induced a grounder to second base to earn his fifth save of the season, quashing a potential tying rally.
Offensively, the bats mustered out nine hits with seniors Steve Zavala (Randolph, N.J.) and Charlie Law (Mainland, N.J.) each going 2-for-4. Junior Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.) and sophomore Vinny Zarrillo (Forked River, N.J.) provided the RBIs.
Joey Lovecchio (5-6) took his second loss of the season against Rutgers, permitting two runs and eight hits over 5.1 innings. The USF (36-22) bullpen gave up just one hit in 2.2 frames to keep it a one-run game.
After both pitchers controlled the first three innings, the Scarlet Knights broke through to take the lead in the fourth. Zavala roped a one-out double off the right-center wall and Law singled, but Mendez fired home from left to cut down the run at the plate. Following that, O’Grady ripped a clutch double into the right field corner to send Law around.
USF picked up its first runners in the next frame, with Blake Sydeski coming through with a two-out RBI single. However, Gebler buckled down and retired the subsequent hitter on a routine fly ball to center to strand two in scoring position.
Rutgers retook the lead right after that, as freshman Matt Tietz (West Milford, N.J.) singled with one out and moved up to third on a double to other way by junior Nick Favatella (Washington Township, N.J.). USF set the infield back and Zarrillo took advantage by grounding a ball to the second baseman for an RBI.
That proved to be all the scoring in the game, as Gebler and Roe closed out the second straight win facing elimination.
Senior Rob Corsi (Oceanport, N.J.) will make the start for Rutgers against the Huskies, with the game set to start at 1 p.m. at Bright House Field. He went six innings in a win over UConn in the regular season.
Fourth time this season RU won a one-run game and second time winning when scoring two runs or less ... Gebler and Roe did not allow a USF extra base hit ... first game this season the offense did not draw a walk ... Law (.455) and O'Grady (.444) are each hitting over .400 in the tournament ... RU was the home team ... team now 27-22 in this tournament ... staff has only used three pitchers in the last two games, giving up just two runs ... both teams combined to strikeout only five times ... USF only stranded four on base ... the Scarlet Knights also took on the Huskies in their last trip to the semifinals ... No. 7 Notre Dame and No. 3 Pittsburgh are the other two teams remaining ... game lasted 2:11 and was played with temperatures in the mid-80s.