PISCATAWAY, N.J. (May 8, 2014) – Playing to a record of 16-4 at home so far this season, Rutgers baseball will wrap up its home schedule with a three-game series against USF at Bainton Field this weekend. The Scarlet Knights (24-22, 9-8) sit in fourth in the American Athletic Conference standings, while the Bulls (25-23, 10-11) are right behind in fifth.
In what promises to be a memorable day, Saturday will mark Fred Hill Day at Bainton Field. The program will honor the legendary coach with a pregame ceremony that will include his number being retired. Click here for more information.
On Sunday, the program will hold Senior Day to honor its six departing players – Lou Clemente (Union, N.J.), Nick Favatella (Washington Township, N.J.), Charlie Lasky (Freehold, N.J.), Slater McCue (Radnor, Pa.), Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.) and Pat Sweeney (Sparta, N.J.). The group has been part of 103 victories so far during their career in Piscataway.
Hawaiian leis will be distributed for the Friday game.
RVision will return to broadcast the final two games of the series, with Danny Breslauer (play-by-play) and Jason Goldstein (color commentary) on the call. WRSU will relay the action from all three games at 88.7-FM and online.
The Scarlet Knights are currently riding a five-game winning streak and are two games over .500 for the first time this season. The most recent victory came Tuesday over Saint Peter’s, 7-5, as RU recovered from an early three-run hole to win. Favatella highlighted the game by going 3-for-4 with three runs and his third home run of the season. It was the final non-conference game on the schedule.
The offense, which ranks second in the conference with a .279 team average, has three players hitting over .320 led by Sweeney at .354 (second in the league). O’Grady (.339) is ranked fifth, while freshman Mike Carter (Bloomfield, N.J.) is batting .324 for the season and .368 in conference games. O’Grady is additionally second in slugging (.523) and triples (five), and leads Rutgers with 19 consecutive games reaching base and 18 multiple-hit games. Junior Vinny Zarrillo (Forked River, N.J.) leads RU and sits 10th in the conference with 31 RBIs.
On the mound, sophomore Howie Brey (Middletown, N.J.) will make his ninth series-opening start of the season. The left-hander allowed two runs over 6.1 innings in his last appearance versus Temple in a no-decision, as he is holding opposing hitters to a .206 average against for the year. Freshman Gaby Rosa (Perth Amboy, N.J.) earned his team-leading fifth win of the season against the Owls with two runs permitted over seven innings. The right-hander leads the American in fly to ground ratio (2.40) and in fly outs per game (14.82). Out of the bullpen, junior Jon Yong (Old Bridge, N.J.) is tied for second in school history with nine saves this season, while redshirt freshman Max Herrmann (Rutherford, N.J.) has 29 strikeouts in 35 innings.
A freshman pitcher has started 35 games this season and freshmen have accounted for 70 percent of innings pitched (279.1) … Favatella has started the last 191 games, the fourth-longest active streak in the nation … Favatella (240, fourth) is one hit shy of tying Todd Frazier for third-most in school history, also being second in career at bats (776), seventh in triples (seven) and 10th in runs (153) … O’Grady has also eclipsed the 200-hit mark this year and is ninth (219) in the records, sitting fourth in at bats (741) and tied for 10th in doubles (44) … Favatella, O’Grady and Sweeney have combined to play in 579 games with 551 starts during their collegiate careers … the team has connected for 21 triples this season (fifth-most nationally), tied for fourth-most in a season in school history … RU is 22-5 this season when holding the opponent to five runs or less and 17-3 when limiting teams to four runs or less … the team has scored 46 runs in the first inning, the most of any frame … RU is fourth in the nation with 35 sacrifice flies, two off the leaders (Southeast Missouri State, Florida State) … Rutgers stole 12 bases in the Temple series in 13 attempts … Carter is the seventh true freshman in the program to have at least 55 hits in a season since 2000 … the Scarlet Knights entered the week tied for 22nd nationally with 12 outfield assists … the pitching staff has 15 saves this year, tying last season’s team for the program record … Zarrillo has drawn nine walks over the last five games … this series wraps up an eight-game homestand, as RU is 104-57-1 (.645) at Bainton Field since it opened for the 2007 season … this is the fifth home series in the last six weekends … RU last played five home series in a season in 2009.
The Bulls suffered a home series loss to Louisville last weekend, but recovered to defeat FIU, 6-4, on the road in midweek action. This will be the final conference series, as USF will take the league bye during the last week. Jimmy Herget, who RU saw twice last season, is second in the American with a 1.36 ERA to lead the pitching staff. At the plate, Kyle Teaf is hitting .347, while Luke Maglich has driven in 27 runs. Head coach Lelo Prado is in his eighth season at the helm of the program after serving previously as the leader at Louisville.
Click here for more information on USF baseball.
Rutgers and USF met five times in a nine-day span last season. The Bulls took the regular season series in Tampa, two games to one, before winning 5-2 in the opening round of the BIG EAST Tournament. However, the Scarlet Knights exacted revenge behind a masterful pitching performance by Tyler Gebler to eliminate USF, 2-1, to reach the semifinals. The all-time series is tied, 10-10. RU swept the last time USF came to Piscataway in 2010, with the middle win on April 17 being Fred Hill’s 1,000th career victory.
RU will finish the regular season and look to improve playoff seeding with a series at Memphis starting Thursday, May 15. It will be the first meeting between the programs.