PISCATAWAY, N.J. (April 18, 2012) – Rutgers University baseball broke open a 3-3 game with four runs in the bottom of the seventh to run past Lafayette College and win its sixth-straight game on Wednesday at Bainton Field. Junior Patrick Kivlehan (West Nyack, N.Y.) went 3-for-3 at the plate, while classmate Steve Zavala (Randolph, N.J.) knocked in two to provide production from the middle of the order.
The Scarlet Knights last won six-consecutive games from April 4-18, 2010 in the midst of earning head coach Fred Hill his 1,000th career collegiate win.
Senior Willie Beard (Spotswood, N.J.) (2-0) earned his second win of the year in relief, pitching three scoreless innings with five strikeouts to shut down the Leopards. Sophomore Slater McCue (Radnor, Pa.) had the best start of his career for RU with seven strikeouts recorded in six innings of work. The right-hander scattered five hits and gave up three runs in his 101-pitch outing.
With the score knotted at three in the seventh, the Scarlet Knights (21-15) exploded for four runs on three hits to take a 7-3 advantage. Sophomore Pat Sweeney (Sparta, N.J.) drew a four-pitch walk to start things off and advanced to second on a passed ball. Classmate Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.) then had a productive groundout to move Sweeney up to third. On a full count, fellow sophomore Nick Favatella (Washington Township, N.J.) laced a double to left to bring home the first run of the inning and give RU the lead. Zavala then rocketed a ball up the middle to score Favatella and Kivlehan followed with an RBI double of his own to the fence in left. The third baseman ended up scoring on a wild pitch to cap the go-ahead rally.
The Leopards (10-27-1) dented the scoreboard first on a two-run double by Scott Kelleher off the left field wall with two outs in his first at bat. Rutgers evened the game in the second on a pair of RBI fielder’s choices. Kivlehan singled to third base to start the rally, promptly stealing second. Sophomore Michael Zavala (Randolph, N.J.) then worked a walk and junior Charlie Law (Mainland, N.J.) hit an infield single to load the bases. Junior Bill Hoermann (Toms River, N.J.) and freshman Vinny Zarrillo (Forked River, N.J.) each followed with grounders that brought in a run.
Rutgers manufactured a run to take its first lead of the day in the bottom of the fifth. O’Grady doubled down the right field line to lead off, moving up to third on a sacrifice bunt by Favatella. Steve Zavala picked up an RBI on a groundout to second base with the infield back to plate the centerfielder.
The game evened up again in the sixth on another two-out RBI hit by the Leopards. RU then followed with the four-run seventh to break the game open. In the bottom of the eighth, Rutgers scored on an unearned run to set the final at 8-3.
Ben Meer (0-2) took the loss for Lafayette in relief, while Tim Lazor led the visitor’s offense with a 3-for-5 afternoon.
The Scarlet Knights will next hit the road to face Connecticut in a pivotal BIG EAST three-game series. The Huskies are currently second in the conference standings and the Scarlet Knights are fifth.
Kivlehan picked up two successful stolen bases to bring his total to 17 for the season … the seven strikeouts for McCue tied a season high for a RU starter (Rob Smorol at FAU, March 10) … O’Grady had at least two hits for the 13th time this season … Rutgers also beat Lafayette in the last meeting between the teams, 14-7, on April 22, 2009 … Favatella has reached base safely in 28-straight games and has a nine-game hitting streak … the game was played on a cool, overcast day with intermittent rain drops.
Follow Rutgers Athletics on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RutgersAthletics) and Twitter (@RUAthletics) for all of the latest news and updates. For specific updates regarding baseball, follow the program on Twitter @baseballRU. Fans can receive timely information, including special offers and giveaways throughout the year on our social media outlets along with www.ScarletKnights.com.