NOTRE DAME, Ind. (May 12, 2012) – Junior third baseman Patrick Kivlehan (West Nyack, N.Y.) and sophomore middle infielder Nick Favatella (Washington Township, N.J.) each recorded four hits to help lead Rutgers University baseball past the University of Notre Dame, 11-6, on Saturday at Frank Eck Stadium, evening the series. Kivlehan also scored four runs in reaching base safely in all five plate appearances, additionally clubbing his 12th home run of the season in the fourth inning to take the BIG EAST lead.
Junior pitcher Rob Smorol (Clark, N.J.) (7-3) picked up his fifth win against a conference opponent this season on the mound, hurling six innings with only one earned run and five hits allowed. The left-hander tied his season high with six strikeouts on the afternoon.
It was the first career four-hit game for Favatella and the third of the season for Kivlehan, as the team notched 13 base knocks in the game and scored in six different innings.
Rutgers (28-21, 13-10 BIG EAST) took its first lead of the series with a run in the top of the second, sparked by a leadoff single by Kivlehan to right field. The third baseman then advanced to third on a Notre Dame fielding error with no outs. Junior right fielder Steve Zavala (Randolph, N.J.) then hit a groundball to second base with the infield back to bring home Kivlehan for an RBI, giving RU the 1-0 early advantage.
The Scarlet Knights extended the lead in the fourth on a two-homer by Kivlehan over the scoreboard in left field with one out. Favatella led off the frame with a single and the third baseman followed two batters later with his second long ball in as many days and his eighth with at least one runner on base this year.
The lead grew to 7-0 one inning later, with four runs coming across with two outs. Sophomore catcher Michael Zavala (Randolph, N.J.) was hit by a pitch to start and moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore left fielder Joe D’Annunzio (Scotch Plains, N.J.). After an out, sophomore center fielder Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.) laced a clutch two-out RBI single to score Michael Zavala for the first run of the rally. Favatella followed with a base hit to move O’Grady to third and junior designated hitter Jeff Melillo (Annandale, N.J.) roped a single to center field for one RBI, with an error allowing Favatella to come around all the way from first. Steve Zavala capped the outburst with a lined single to center to score Melillo for the fourth two-out run of the frame.
The Irish struck back for three runs in the bottom of the inning, including two scores on an RU error.
However, the Scarlet Knights continued to keep the pressure on with two runs in the sixth. Michael Zavala started the rally again, this time hitting an infield single to shortstop. D’Annunzio then laid down his second sacrifice bunt of the day, and reached on an errant throw to setup runners on the corners with no outs. Senior second baseman Dan Perrine (Scotch Plains, N.J.) picked up his second RBI of the season with a groundball to third to bring home Michael Zavala. D’Annunzio then advanced to third on a fly out and was plated on a two-out RBI hit by Favatella to make the score 9-3.
Kivlehan scored again in the seventh on an errant pickoff to first when he was on third base. He had singled to lead off the frame. Joe Hudson homered for Notre Dame (26-23, 12-11 BIG EAST) to get a run back in the bottom of the inning.
Each team scored in the ninth inning to set the final score, as junior first baseman Charlie Law (Mainland, N.J.) chased home Kivlehan for his fourth run of the game on with a sacrifice fly after he had beat out an infield hit earlier. Trey Mancini connected for a two-run blast in the host’s final at bat to make the final score 11-6.
Junior left-hander Dan O’Neill (Lake Hiawatha, N.J.) earned his fourth save of the season for Rutgers after pitching the final three innings.
Senior right-hander Ryan Fasano (Stony Point, N.Y.) will take the ball for RU on Sunday in search of a series win, while Pat Connaughton will pitch for Notre Dame in the deciding game. First pitch at Frank Eck Stadium is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.
Kivlehan has now hit multiple home runs in three BIG EAST series this season (Georgetown, Cincinnati) … he now leads the BIG EAST with the 12 home runs and also pushed his batting average up to .404 … Melillo has reached base safely in 27-straight games after hitting a single through the left side in the fourth … Kivlehan has a reached-base streak of 21 games … Favatella saw action at both second base and shortstop … the Scarlet Knights scored six runs with two outs … Rutgers took advantage of five Notre Dame errors to score five unearned runs … seven different players recorded an RBI for RU … Kivlehan now has 12 multiple RBI games and Steve Zavala has 11 … it was the second time O’Neill had worked the last three innings to pick up a season (at Connecticut) … the left-hander now leads the team with 22 appearances this season … Rutgers recovered to win the series after dropping the opener in its last trip to Eck Stadium in 2010 by winning the last two games … it was the 15th win this season in which RU never trailed in the game … Rutgers is now 10-2 when scoring at least 10 runs … the game was played partly cloudy, 65-degree afternoon in which Notre Dame played in retro uniforms.
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