NORWICH, Conn. (April 21, 2012) – Rutgers University baseball scored at least three runs in four separate innings and two pitchers combined to hurl a shutout, as the Scarlet Knights blew past the University of Connecticut, 15-0, on Saturday at Dodd Stadium in the series finale. It was the biggest margin of victory in a shutout win for RU since joining the BIG EAST for the 1996 season.
Seven players recorded at least two hits in the game as the offense tied a season high with 18 knocks on the afternoon. The 15 runs scored also tied a season-best. Junior Charlie Law (Mainland, N.J.) recorded a career-high four RBIs, including a three-run home run to put the game away in the fifth inning. Sophomore Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.) and junior Patrick Kivlehan (West Nyack, N.Y.) each notched three hits in the ballgame, as the duo combined for 14 base knocks in the three-game series.
Senior Ryan Fasano (Stony Point, N.Y.) (4-3) backed up an appearance on the latest BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll with six shutout innings to earn his fourth win of the season and third in four starts. The right-hander scattered four hits and walked just one in his outing. Junior Dan O’Neill (Lake Hiawatha, N.J.) tossed the last three frames to complete third shutout win of the year for RU, earning his second save of the season.
Sophomore Nick Favatella (Washington Township, N.J.) had two hits to increase his streak of reaching base safely to 31-straight games, while junior Jeff Melillo (Annandale, N.J.) bumped his hitting streak to 18 with a pair of singles from the third spot in the order.
After each pitcher tossed three scoreless innings to start, the Scarlet Knights (22-17, 8-7 BIG EAST) broke through with six runs in the top of the fourth to take the lead, with the first six batters reaching safely. Melillo led off with a ringing single up the middle and moved up when Kivlehan was hit by a pitch for the 11th time this season. Classmate Steve Zavala (Randolph, N.J.) then placed a perfect bunt down the third base line that the Huskies were unable to field, going for a single to load the bases.
Law brought in the first run with a one-hop line drive to third base that was thrown home, but Melillo beat it to score. Classmate Bill Hoermann (Toms River, N.J.) followed with an RBI walk. Rutgers plated two more on a throwing error on a ball put in play by sophomore Joe D’Annunzio (Scotch Plains, N.J.) to go up 4-0. After two were retired, Favatella hit a chopper up the middle that took a fortunate bounce for RU over the shortstop and into center field for another pair of runs, capping the rally. It was the fifth inning of six or more runs this season for Rutgers.
Fasano sat down the Huskies (23-17, 11-4 BIG EAST) in order the next half inning to get RU back to the plate.
Kivlehan and Zavala each singled to start to bring Law back to the batter’s box in another RBI situation after UConn made a pitching change. Law, on a 2-2 pitch, sent a soaring blast that not only cleared the yellow line on the outfield wall, but easily made it over the second wall of signage at Dodd Stadium for a three-run homer. It was the first of the season for the designated hitter and the second in his career, putting the Scarlet Knights up nine.
Rutgers rallied for three more in the seventh inning to up the advantage to 12-0. D’Annunzio singled with one out and moved up to third when sophomore Pat Sweeney (Sparta, N.J.) reached on an error. O’Grady brought in D’Annunzio on a fielder’s choice for an RBI, and Favatella proceeded to single. Melillo and Kivlehan then laced RBI singles to score O’Grady and Favatella.
The final trio of runs scored one inning later. D’Annunzio once again instigated the rally with a two-out walk and Sweeney roped his second hit of the game to put two on. After the left fielder scored on a wild pitch, O’Grady lifted a triple to left-center for an RBI. Senior Dan Perrine (Scotch Plains, N.J.) followed with a pinch-hit double on the first pitch he saw to chase home O’Grady and notch the 15th and final run of the day.
Anthony Marzi (2-5) suffered the loss for the Huskies.
The Scarlet Knights will next travel home to take on Delaware on Tuesday, April 24 at 3 p.m. at Bainton Field, before heading out to Cincinnati for another BIG EAST series.
It was the biggest margin of victory for Rutgers over Connecticut in the records books dating back to 1946 … the previous largest gap in a shutout win was 11, accomplished on May 5, 2002 at Bainton Field against Notre Dame … Kivlehan swiped his 20th stolen base of the year, the most for a Scarlet Knight since Todd Frazier swiped 25 in the 2007 season … RU is 7-3 in game three of a series … it was the third time Rutgers reached 18 hits in a game and second time in the last five games … Fasano walked one hitter and has allowed just one or less base on balls in eight starts this season … Sweeney tied a season-high with six assists from shortstop … all nine starters in the lineup recorded a run and eight had at least one hit … Kivlehan upped his batting average to . 405 … the game was played on a picturesque sunny afternoon at Dodd Stadium in Norwich, Conn., home of the Connecticut Tigers (Class A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers).
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