PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. (May 13, 2011) – The Rutgers baseball team erupted for five two-out runs in the fifth inning to break a 1-1 tie en route to an 8-2 series-opening victory over Villanova Friday afternoon at Villanova Ballpark in Plymouth Meeting, Pa. RU improved to 18-27 overall and 9-13 in the BIG EAST with the win, while VU fell to 17-30 overall and 4-18 in the league with the loss.
Tied at 1-1 through four frames, Villanova starter Kyle Helisek retired the first two Scarlet Knight batters of the fifth on two pitches. Seventeen pitches later, Rutgers had plated five runs on six hits without recording the third out and chased the Wildcat starter out of the game. The Scarlet Knights used four-straight doubles from senior Michael Lang (Dumont, N.J.), freshman Nick Favatella (Washington Twp., N.J.), senior D.J. Anderson (Randolph, N.J.) and junior Russ Hopkins (Piscataway, N.J.) and a single from freshman Michael Zavala (Randolph, N.J.) to push across four runs, ending Helisek’s day. Senior Brandon Boykin (Piscataway, N.J.) greeted newly-inserted Villanova hurler Matt Longfield with RU’s fifth double of the frame and fourth to the gap in right-center to bring home Zavala for the fifth and final run of the inning. When the dust settled in the half inning, six hits, including five doubles, led to five runs and a 6-1 lead for Rutgers.
Matt Fleischman tripled home a run for Villanova in the bottom half of the fifth to cut the RU lead to 6-2.
That was as close as the Wildcats would get as Rutgers sophomore starter Tyler Gebler (Toms River, N.J.) posted scoreless sixth and seventh frames before handing the ball over to reliever Willie Beard (Spotswood, N.J.). The junior faced the minimum in his two innings of scoreless work to seal the win.
The Scarlet Knights added a run in the sixth on a Favatella RBI double to the wall in right field and a score in the ninth on a Boykin double to the wall in left-center field to extend their lead to 8-2.
Gebler improved to 4-5 with seven innings of two-run ball that included five strikeouts in the win. Helisek (1-8) surrendered six runs on eight hits in 4.2 innings in the loss for the Wildcats.
With a 3-for-4 day at the plate, Lang moved his career hits total to 221 for his career, passing former Scarlet Knight All-American outfielder Jeff Frazier who collected 220 career hits from 2002-04, for sixth place on the school’s all-time hit chart.
Boykin joined Lang with three hits on the day, including a pair of doubles, to guide the Scarlet Knights’ 13-hit attack.
The Scarlet Knights and Wildcats will continue the series with a 1:15 p.m. game Saturday at Villanova Ballpark as sophomore lefty Rob Smorol (Clark, N.J.) heads to the mound for RU against junior righty Kyle McMyne for VU.