WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. (April 17, 2012) – Junior Pat O’Leary (Sparta, N.J.) pitched a dominant 6.2 innings and classmate Steve Zavala (Randolph, N.J.) had a career-high four RBIs to drive Rutgers University baseball past Monmouth University, 8-1, on Tuesday at the MU Baseball Field. The Scarlet Knights are currently on a season-high five game winning streak and have won eight of the last 11 times out.
The offense exploded for 18 hits to match a season-high also set at Florida Atlantic on March 11. The Scarlet Knights (20-15) additionally matched their win total from last season with 20 regular season games remaining on the schedule.
O’Leary (2-0), in his third start of the season, settled in after allowing a run in the first to work a season-long 6.2 innings with only three hits allowed. The right-hander sat down 17 of 19 hitters at one stretch during the ballgame, improving RU to 16-10 when the starter goes at least five innings.
Five Scarlet Knights had at least two knocks in the game, led by a four-hit day by junior first baseman Bill Hoermann (Toms River, N.J.). Zavala had three of his RBIs with two outs to help the team pull away from Monmouth (22-15), who entered the game 11-2 at home this season.
For the first time in five games, Rutgers scored first with three runs in its initial at bat. Sophomores Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.) and Nick Favatella (Washington Township, N.J.) each singled to start the rally, moving up one base on a base knock by junior Patrick Kivlehan (West Nyack, N.Y.). With two outs, Zavala laced a clean single above the shortstop to score two. Kivlehan then took home when Zavala got caught in a rundown between first and second to give RU a 3-0 early advantage.
The Hawks responded with one score of their own in the bottom of the inning, aided by a catcher’s interference.
Hoermann’s third hit of the day went for an RBI as sophomore Ross Costello (Egg Harbor Township, N.J.), who doubled to lead off the inning, came around to score with one out to give the Scarlet Knights a three-run lead once again through six innings.
O’Leary left the game with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh, but junior Charlie Law (Mainland, N.J.) retired the side on one pitch to put out the fire and strand all three base runners. Law worked the final 2.1 innings with three strikeouts to earn his second save in as many games and third overall for the season.
Rutgers broke the game open with three runs on five hits in the top of the eighth inning. Junior Jeff Melillo (Annandale, N.J.) started off with a lined single to center and moved up on a wild pitch. Kivlehan then picked up his second hit of the day to put runners on the corners. The catcher scored on an error for the first run on a ball put in play by Costello and Kivlehan came around on Zavala’s third RBI of the day, another single. One batter later, Hoermann drove in Zavala with his fourth line drive to put RU up 7-1.
Zavala notched his fourth RBI with a two-out base hit to bring home Melillo in the ninth inning to set the final score at 8-1.
Jonathan Shippee (3-1) suffered his first loss of the season after allowing four runs in 5.2 innings for Monmouth.
The Scarlet Knights will next head home to take on Lafayette on Wednesday at Bainton Field. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m., as right-hander Slater McCue (Radnor, Pa.) will get the start for RU.
Favatella reached base for the 27th-straight game … Melillo extended his hitting streak to 15 games, the longest by a Scarlet Knight this season … O’Leary and Law combined to surrender only four hits, a game season-low … it was Hoermann’s sixth game with at least three hits this season … RU avenged a loss to Monmouth in Greenville, N.C. last season … the game was played on a beautiful sunny afternoon perfect for baseball.
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