NORFOLK, Va. (February 25, 2012) – Rutgers University baseball jumped out to an 11-3 lead and held on late to defeat Old Dominion University, 11-8, on Saturday at Bud Metheny Baseball Complex. The Scarlet Knights clinched their first series win of the season with the victory.
Eight Scarlet Knights recorded two knocks in a balanced 17-hit attack to lead to a season-high 11 runs. Sophomore Nick Favatella (Washington Township, N.J.) and junior Jeff Melillo (Annandale, N.J.) each brought in three runs.
Junior lefty Rob Smorol (Clark, N.J.) earned his first win of the season for RU (2-3), pitching seven innings with only three hits and two earned runs allowed to even his record at 1-1. ODU starter Ben Tomchick (0-1) suffered the loss in 4.2 innings of work.
The Scarlet Knights exploded for five runs in the fifth inning – all with two outs – to break the game open, highlighted by the first career home run by junior Steve Zavala (Randolph, N.J.). Tomchick retired the first two hitters of the inning, but sophomores Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.) and Joe D’Annunzio (Scotch Plains, N.J.) both singled to put two on for Favatella. The second baseman came through with a line drive to leftfield to bring in the two runners, who had been on second and third, for the first runs of the frame. After Favatella stole second, Melillo laced an RBI double down the leftfield line to keep the rally going. RU was not done, as Zavala crushed a long ball to right after a pitching change to cap the inning and give the Scarlet Knights the 6-0 advantage.
RU added three more in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly from Favatella and a two-run double by Melillo.
Rutgers scored first for the third-straight game with a run generated with two outs in the second inning. Sophomore Ross Costello (Egg Harbor Township, N.J.) ripped a triple to right field and immediately came home on an infield single by junior Bill Hoermann (Toms River, N.J.). It was the first baseman’s seventh knock in his last 10 at bats.
ODU (2-4) thought it had its first run of the game in the fourth inning when Ben Verlander flied one to deep right-center and an outfield collision caused the ball to come loose. Verlander rounded the bases for an apparent inside-the-park home run, but the umpires gathered and reversed the call to an out.
The Monarchs scored an unearned run the bottom of the sixth and Chris Baker hit a two-run home run in the seventh to account for ODU’s first three runs.
Rutgers scored its 10th run in the seventh on a double from junior Charlie Law (Mainland, N.J.) and a RBI single by sophomore Pat Sweeney (Sparta, N.J.) and added an 11th score on a Hoermann RBI single in the eighth.
The Monarchs battled back late in part to poor fielding by the Scarlet Knights to score three unearned runs in the ninth. Junior Jerry Elsing (Montville, N.J.) quelled the rally when ODU brought the tying run to the plate in the final inning.
Rutgers will look for the series sweep on Sunday when junior Rob Corsi (Oceanport, N.J.) heads to the mound in search of his first win of the season. Old Dominion has not announced a starter. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Bud Metheny Baseball Complex.
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