MORGANTOWN, W. Va. (May 20, 2011) – The Rutgers baseball team scored three runs in the first two innings and never looked back en route to a 7-5 victory over West Virginia Friday night at Hawley Field in Morgantown, W. Va. With the win, the Scarlet Knights (20-29, 11-15 BIG EAST) took the series from the Mountaineers (27-25, 13-13 BIG EAST) and now look for the series sweep tomorrow at 1 p.m.
Despite Friday’s victory, Rutgers was eliminated from postseason play as USF and Seton Hall also earned victories during Friday’s action and the two will fight for the final spot in next week’s league tournament.
The Scarlet Knights jumped on WVU early as three-straight singles by Nick Favatella (Washington Twp., N.J.), D.J. Anderson (Randolph, N.J.) and Russ Hopkins (Piscataway, N.J.) gave them a 1-0 advantage in the first.
Freshman Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.) opened the second with a five-pitch walk and Bill Hoermann (Toms River, N.J.) took WVU starter Corey Walter’s next pitch to the gap in right-center field for an RBI triple. Hoermann came around to score on a Jeff Melillo (Annandale, N.J.) groundout later in the frame as RU extended its lead to 3-0.
An RBI double from Colin Durborow game WVU a run in the bottom half of the second to make it 3-1.
The Scarlet Knights followed a run from the Mountaineers in the fourth with a run of their own in the fifth to push the lead back to two runs at 4-2.
RU collected four hits and capitalized on a WVU error to plate three runs in the sixth on RBI singles by Melillo, senior Michael Lang (Dumont, N.J.) and Favatella to extend its lead to 7-2.
A three-run home run by West Virginia’s Ryan McBroom in the bottom half of the sixth cut the lead right back to a pair of runs at 7-5.
Sophomore starter Rob Smorol (Clark, N.J.) rebounded from the three-run blast to finish out the sixth and handed the ball over to his bullpen in the seventh. Junior Willie Beard (Spotswood, N.J.) worked two scoreless frames and sophomore closer Jerry Elsing (Montville, N.J.) posted a scoreless ninth for his fifth save of the season.
Smorol scattered seven hits over six innings with and five runs allowed to pick up the win and improve to 4-7 on the year. Walter pitched all nine innings with seven runs allowed on 12 hits in the loss to fall to 2-4.
Lang led the Scarlet Knights 12-hit attack with a 4-for-5 day at the plate that included an RBI and a run scored. With his four-hit day, the senior passed Jake Daubert (226 from 1998-2000) for fifth place on the school’s all-time hit chart, pushing his career hit total to 228. He also passed Jeff Frazier (370 from 2002-04) and moved into fifth place on the school’s total bases list with 371 in his career. Lang’s ninth-inning double moved into a tie with Mike O’Brien (48 from 1997-2000) for seventh place on Rutgers career doubles list with 48.
The Scarlet Knights and Mountaineers close the series Sunday at 1p.m. at Hawley Field as RU looks for the series sweep with junior righty Ryan Fasano (Stony Point, N.Y.) on the hill against senior righty Andy Berry.