SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. (March 24, 2012) – A six-run second inning and a collective effort from the bullpen propelled Rutgers University baseball to an important 9-6 BIG EAST win against Seton Hall University on Saturday at Owen T. Carroll Field. Sophomore Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.) picked up five RBIs and senior Patrick Kivlehan (West Nyack, N.Y.) reached base all five times, including a home run, to spark the offense.
Coupled with the 10-2 victory in the second game of the doubleheader Friday, the Scarlet Knights (11-10, 2-1) have won two of three in the series against their in-state rival in each of the last three years. The team also moves over .500 for the first time this season.
Kivlehan finished 3-for-3 on the day with a walk, a hit by a pitch and a steal. For the series, the third baseman batted .700 (7-10) with an on base percentage of .800 to go with four RBIs.
O’Grady had a career-day driving it runs, collecting five RBIs with three hits and two walks. His game was highlighted by a big bases-clearing triple to give the Scarlet Knights the lead in the second inning.
The six-run second was the biggest rally of the season for RU. It started with one out when junior Bill Hoermann (Toms River, N.J.) reached on an error and sophomore Joe D’Annunzio (Scotch Plains, N.J.) worked a long count for a single. After sophomore Pat Sweeney (Sparta, N.J.) was hit by a pitch to load the bases, O’Grady crushed a long ball that clipped the top of the wall in right that went for a triple to score all three runners and gave RU a lead, 3-1, that would never be relinquished.
The rally did not stop there. After a strikeout, junior Jeff Melillo (Annandale, N.J.) came through with a clutch single up the middle to score O’Grady. Kivlehan then blasted his second homer of the season to left-center, one of the deepest parts of the park, to cap the offensive outburst. Overall, RU sent nine batters to the plate in the frame.
Junior starter Rob Corsi (Oceanport, N.J.) pitched one inning for Rutgers, but was forced to depart early in the second due to an apparent injury. Seton Hall (10-12, 1-2) scored a run on three walks and a hit batter in the inning to make the score 6-2, Rutgers.
Sophomore Charlie Lasky (Freehold, N.J.) (2-0) earned the win in relief, minimizing the Pirates’ rally in the second inning by inducing a double play with the bases loaded. The right-hander ended up working 2.2 innings with one run allowed and three strikeouts. Junior Pat O’Leary (Sparta, N.J.) also pitched well in the middle innings, going three frames with only two hits and two runs surrendered.
Seton Hall starter Jose Lopez (2-1) suffered his first loss of the season, but only two of his six charged runs were earned. Ryan Harvey struck out seven in relief.
The Scarlet Knights broke through against Harvey with a run in the fifth inning on a bases loaded walk drawn by Sweeney. Kivlehan was hit by a pitch to start the inning and stole second for his eighth successful steal of the season. Junior Steve Zavala (Randolph, N.J.) then laid down a perfect bunt for a hit to put runners at the corners. After two strikeouts, D’Annunzio and Sweeney both worked walks to extend the lead to 7-3.
O’Grady drew a bases loaded walk in the seventh to tack on another run for his fourth RBI of the game. Junior Charlie Law (Mainland, N.J.) came across to score after he began the inning with a walk of his own.
For the game, both sides combined to walk 17 batters, but 25 total runners were left on base.
Seton Hall crept back into the game in the seventh on a two-run triple to pull within 8-5. The Pirates staged another rally in the eighth to add another run, but junior Jerry Elsing (Montville, N.J.) got the SHU batter to pop up to first with the bases loaded to hold the lead.
Rutgers added an insurance run in the ninth when O’Grady singled up the middle with two outs to bring in D’Annunzio. The left fielder finished with two runs and two hits.
Law, who started as the designated hitter, entered the game in the ninth on the mound and closed it out with a 6-4-3 double play to earn his first career save.
The Scarlet Knights return home to Bainton Field for a midweek game on Wednesday, March 28 against Wagner. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.
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