JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 22, 2014) – Rutgers baseball (2-4) used two quick starts and solid outings on the mound to sweep Jacksonville (1-5) in a road doubleheader Saturday at Sessions Stadium. The victories marked the first wins for Joe Litterio as the RU head coach. The Scarlet Knights won 6-2 in the opener and 10-2 in the nightcap.
“I am very happy with how we played today,” Litterio said. “We were aggressive and put all facets of the game together.”
GAME ONE | BOX
Led by three hits, three RBIs and home run by senior Lou Clemente (Union, N.J.) and six shutout innings on the mound by sophomore Howie Brey (Middletown, N.J.), Rutgers won its first game of the season, 6-2, over Jacksonville. The Scarlet Knights scored all six of their runs in the first three innings to take command of the game.
After falling behind early in the all four games in the series at FIU, Rutgers flipped the script and scored twice in the first inning to take the lead in the opener. Freshman Mike Carter (Bloomfield, N.J.) singled to start the game, but was forced out for the second out two batters later. Next, junior Vinny Zarrillo (Forked River, N.J.) doubled to left field to put two in scoring position, as both senior Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.) and Zarrillo came home on a two-run single to shortstop by Clemente.
Brey fired a perfect bottom of the first to put the Scarlet Knights back to the plate right away. Junior Michael Zavala (Randolph, N.J.) led off the second with a walk and came around from first on a one-out RBI double to right field by senior Pat Sweeney (Sparta, N.J.). Following a groundout to move Sweeney to third, senior Nick Favatella (Washington Township, N.J.) singled to third base for another run. The rally was capped on an RBI triple to right-center by O’Grady.
Clemente made it 6-0 in the third inning with his second career home run for Rutgers, a shot to right-center on a full count.
The six runs of support would prove more than enough for Brey (1-0), who earned his first win as a starter at the collegiate level. He surrendered only three hits in his six scoreless innings, with five strikeouts and three walks. Junior Jon Young (Old Bridge, N.J.) collected his first career save with one earned run allowed and three punchouts over the final three innings of the game.
Carter, O’Grady and Zarrillo joined Clemente with multiple-hit games, as RU out-hit the Dolphins, 12-7. Alex McRae (0-2) took the loss for JU.
GAME TWO | BOX
The Scarlet Knights used a similar formula in the nightcap, scoring seven runs in the first inning to cruise to a 10-2 victory. Redshirt freshman Kyle Driscoll (Toms River, N.J.) was credited the win in his first collegiate start.
The first-inning rally sent 11 batters to the plate, using seven hits to take control of the game. It started with one out when Favatella singled to right field and O’Grady followed with a single of his own, with Favatella coming all the way around on an error. Zarrillo next doubled to bring in O’Grady for the second run. Following a walk to Clemente, junior Joe D’Annunzio (Scotch Plains, N.J.) connected for a single to plate Zarrillo. Freshman Christian Campbell (Sayreville, N.J.) kept it going with a single to load the bases for Sweeney, who doubled to left field to score D’Annunzio and Clemente. Sophomore R.J. Devish (Beachwood, N.J.) recorded an RBI groundout to chase home Campbell to make it 6-0. The rally was capped off by an RBI double by Carter to center field.
The Dolphins responded with a run in the bottom of the third, but gave back two to RU in the fourth on a pair of unearned runs. A throwing error and a passed ball allowed the Scarlet Knights to go up 9-1. Another single run was tacked on by JU in the fourth and a sacrifice fly by O’Grady to score Favatella after a triple in the sixth ended the scoring for the day.
Driscoll (1-0) struck out four, scattered four hits and surrendered two runs in his four-inning outing, as the game was a scheduled for only seven innings. Redshirt freshman Max Herrmann (Rutherford, N.J.), sophomore Reed Shuttle (Lansdale, N.J.) and freshman TJ Perkowski (South Brunswick, N.J.) each tossed a scoreless frame to seal the doubleheader sweep. Justin Russell (1-1) took the loss for Jacksonville.
At the plate, Carter, Favatella, O’Grady and Campbell each collected two outs in a balanced offensive attack. The Scarlet Knights played errorless ball in both games of the twinbill, as the programs last swept a doubleheader May 11, 2013 at home against Georgetown.
The Scarlet Knights will go for the series sweep Sunday at noon against the Dolphins. Redshirt freshman Kevin Baxter (Waterford, N.J.) will make the start on the mound for RU.