CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 16, 2013) – After rallying to take a 4-3 lead in the top of the ninth, Rutgers baseball surrendered two runs in the bottom of the frame to fall, 5-4, to No. 28 Miami in the season opener at Alex Rodriguez Park. The teams will meet again at 7 p.m. tonight for the second game of the doubleheader.
Down 3-1 after eight innings, the Scarlet Knights (0-1) scored three times to take the lead in the ninth. Junior Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.) walked and scored one batter later on a double by senior Jeff Melillo (Annandale, N.J.) to start the rally. Following a groundout, senior Steve Zavala (Randolph, N.J.) worked a walk to put two runners on. Then senior Charlie Law (Mainland, N.J.) came through with a tying single to left to bring home Melillo, making it 3-3. RU took the lead immediately after when an errant pickoff by UM closer AJ Salcines went into the outfield to bring home Zavala.
However, the RU bullpen could not hold the lead as UM (1-0) scored twice in the bottom of ninth to earn the win. A walk and hit by pitch issued by senior Rob Corsi (Oceanport, N.J) started the inning, with junior Charlie Lasky (Freehold, N.J.) then entering in relief. Alex San Juan laid down a bunt to put two in scoring position for the first out. Pinch-hitter Garrett Kennedy fell behind in the count before flaring a ball into left that scooted far enough away from sophomore Vinny Zarrillo (Forked River, N.J.) to allow two to score for the walk-off.
For the game, Rutgers out-hit Miami, 9-7, led by three hits from Zarrillo. It was the second career three-hit game for the outfielder. Law also had a multiple-hit game with two singles.
Senior left-hander Rob Smorol (Clark, N.J.) was sharp in his first outing of the season for the Scarlet Knights, tossing six innings with three hits and three runs allowed. He struck out six and walked just one.
After four scoreless frames, the Scarlet Knights broke through in the top of the fifth to plate their first run of the season. Zavala reached on an error to start the inning and moved into scoring position after a one-out walk worked by classmate Bill Hoermann (Toms River, N.J.). Zarrillo then laced a single to left to bring home Zavala, who beat the throw to give RU the 1-0 advantage.
The Canes responded in the sixth with three runs to take the lead. The first two hitters reached via a hit by pitch and walk, with a sacrifice bunt moving them both up. Alex Hernandez then picked up an infield single to bring home the first run and stole second one batter later. With two outs, David Thompson hit a two-run single to center to put Miami up, 3-1.
AJ Salcines (1-0) earned the win for Miami, while Corsi (0-1) suffered the loss. Senior Nathaniel Roe (Plainfield, N.J.) pitched 1.2 scoreless innings in his first appearance since 2011.
Game two of the doubleheader is scheduled to be a seven-inning contest. Senior Tyler Gebler (Toms River, N.J.) will start on the mound for the Scarlet Knights.