PISCATAWAY, N.J. (April 3, 2011) – Sophomore Steve Zavala (Randolph, N.J.) and freshman Michael Zavala (Randolph, N.J.) combined for four hits and five RBI to guide the Rutgers baseball team to a 9-5 victory over Seton Hall in Sunday’s series finale at Bainton Field. With the win, the Scarlet Knights (10-15, 3-3 BIG EAST) take the series from the Pirates (12-13, 3-3 BIG EAST) with two victories in the three-game series. The series victory is RU’s second in as many years over SHU.
Junior pitcher Nathaniel Roe (Plainfield, N.J.) got things started with a 1-2-3 inning in the first and Rutgers built on its early momentum with a three-run first inning. Steve Zavala and D.J. Anderson (Randolph, N.J.) sandwiched a pair of singles around a Nick Favatella (Washington Twp., N.J.) walk to load the bases with one out and Michael Zavala drove in the first two runs with a single through the left side. Junior Russ Hopkins (Piscataway, N.J.) followed with another single to left field to drive in Favatella for the third run of the frame.
Meanwhile, Roe continued his dominant performance on the mound. After surrendering a leadoff single in the second, the junior retired the next 10 batters in order to cruise into the fifth inning. The single was the lone hit given up by Roe in his first four innings of work.
Rutgers capitalized on a Seton Hall error to score five runs in the fourth inning and surge out to an 8-0 advantage, giving Roe a nice lead to work with. Hopkins started the offensive outburst with a drive to deep center field that bounced over the wall for a one-out double and Scotch Plains natives Joe D’Annunzio and Dan Perrine followed one out later with a pair of four-pitch walks to load the bases with two outs. Starter Jon Prosinski appeared to get out of the jam when freshman Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.) hit a ground ball to second base but the ball was mishandled, allowing Hopkins to score on the play. With the bases still loaded, Steve Zavala took Prosinski’s 3-2 offering back up the middle for what appeared to be a two-run single, however the ball snuck under the center fielder’s glove and rolled all the way to the center field wall. An alert Zavala raced all the way around the bases and slid into home to bring home four runs on the three-base error. Before the inning came to an end, the Scarlet Knights had batted around in the frame with five runs coming across.
With a comfortable lead, Roe ran into some trouble in the fifth after the Pirates’ Ryan Anderson doubled to the gap in left-center field, but the junior pitcher was one strike away from getting out of the inning with his fifth scoreless frame. Dillon Hamlin, however, took his 2-2 offering to right field for an RBI single to push across SHU’s first run.
The Pirates opened the sixth with three-straight singles with Sean Gusrang capping the offensive surge with a two-run single to center field. Roe rebounded in the inning with a strikeout and an inning-ending double play to prevent any further damage.
The Zavala brothers combined to push across a ninth run for Rutgers in the sixth as Steve earned a base on balls off a full count with one out and came around to score later in the frame on a single to left field from his younger brother Michael.
With the 9-3 advantage, Roe handed the ball over to his bullpen with freshman Joe Esposito (Metuchen, N.J.) coming in to start the seventh. The Pirates capitalized on an error to score a run despite a hitless frame for the freshman pitcher.
Sophomore Dan O’Neill (Garfield, N.J.) worked the final two innings for the Scarlet Knights. Seton Hall’s Dale Anderson added an RBI single in the eighth but that was as close as the Pirates would get as the sophomore hurler posted a scoreless ninth to seal the victory.
Roe earned his second win in as many starts to improve to 3-4 on the season. He scattered six hits over six innings with a pair of strikeouts. Prosinski (1-3) was tagged with the loss for the Pirates. He only surrendered three earned runs in the contest but eight total scores in his 3.2 innings of work in the defeat.
Anderson and Hopkins led RU with three hits apiece with the Zavala brothers driving in five of the Scarlet Knights’ nine runs in the contest.
Sunday was the final game in Rutgers’ seven-game homestand, however the Scarlet Knights will remain in the state of New Jersey for their next contest, traveling to Princeton for 3:30 p.m. game Tuesday.