PISCATAWAY, N.J. (April 3, 2012) – Sophomore Nick Favatella (Washington Township, N.J.) hit a dramatic walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift Rutgers University baseball past Princeton University, 12-11, Tuesday at Bainton Field. It was the first game won by the Scarlet Knights in their last at bat this season and the biggest deficit (5-0) overcome to win a game.
After junior Charlie Law (Mainland, N.J.) came in out of the bullpen to end the top of the ninth with a strikeout, the second baseman led off by connecting for his fourth homer of the year to left-center on a 2-1 pitch to give RU the win. The last player to hit a game-ending long ball for Rutgers was Todd Frazier on April 7, 2007 against Connecticut.
Junior Bill Hoermann (Toms River, N.J.) had another big day at the plate with three hits and four RBIs, adding his second home run of the season. The first baseman has had five games this year with at least three knocks.
Law (1-1) earned the win for the Scarlet Knights, while Tyler Foote (0-1) took the loss. Senior Willie Beard (Spotswood, N.J.) pitched well in a long-relief role, working 4.2 innings to allow RU to make a comeback.
The game did not start off well for Rutgers (14-12), as Princeton (9-11) jumped out to a 5-0 lead after their first two times at the plate. However, the hosts rallied for four runs in the bottom of the second, thanks in part to three walks to start the frame. Freshman Vinny Zarrillo (Forked River, N.J.) and sophomore Pat Sweeney (Sparta, N.J.) each had RBI singles in the inning.
The Tigers pushed their lead to 8-4, but once again, Rutgers stayed patient at the plate to draw three walks to start a rally in the fourth. Junior Steve Zavala (Randolph, N.J.) had one of his three walks on the day to earn an RBI, while Hoermann dropped in a single down the right field line to bring in two.
The Scarlet Knights finally were able to draw even in the fifth when Sweeney scampered home on wild pitch and took the lead one inning later on the speed of junior Patrick Kivlehan (West Nyack, N.Y.). The third baseman walked, stole a base and raced home to score on a wild pitch to the screen from second. RU brought in two more that inning on a Hoermann homer to left, his second long ball of the season at Bainton Field.
Princeton did not surrender down three, coming together to tie the game after eight on multiple extra-base hits.
That set the stage for Favatella to step up to the plate in the ninth, sending everyone home on a blast in the direction of the Rutgers Athletic Center.
In a game that last 3:07, pitchers from each side struggled to control the strike zone, with 23 combined walks being handed out.
Rutgers is back in action right away, traveling to Columbia for a 3:30 p.m. game at Satow Stadium on Wednesday. Junior Pat O’Leary (Sparta, N.J.) will make the start since Law had to be used in relief today.
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