PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. (March 28, 2013) – Senior left-hander Rob Smorol (Clark, N.J.) pitched eight shutout innings to lead Rutgers baseball to a 6-0 win over Villanova Thursday at Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth. He has now worked 24.2 career innings against the Wildcats without surrendering a run, as he becomes the sixth pitcher in RU history to notch 20 career victories.
The triumph improves the Scarlet Knights’ record to 9-12 for the season and 3-1 in the BIG EAST, while Villanova fell to 6-17 in their first conference game of the year. It is the best league start for RU since beginning 4-0 in 2010.
The offense collected 10 hits on the day, with five two-out RBI knocks to account for the six runs. The defense played errorless ball for fifth time this season (4-1). Rutgers bumps its winning streak over VU to four after sweeping the series at Bainton Field last year.
Smorol (3-1) backed his winning performance at No. 4 Louisville with another gem against the Wildcats, picking up his fifth quality start in seven tries in 2013. He has allowed just three earned runs over his last 27 innings for a 1.00 ERA in four starts. It was his fifth career appearance versus VU, tossing a three-hit shutout last season and working six scoreless innings two years ago. He made two relief outings for 1.2 innings in 2010.
The lefty scattered five hits in the ballgame Thursday and walked one, as Villanova only had one inning against him with multiple runners on base in the 120-pitch outing. Smorol recorded a total of eight strikeouts, the most since registering his career high of 12 versus Cincinnati in 2011. He also moves into fourth all-time in program history with 269.0 career innings.
At the plate, junior Nick Favatella (Washington Township, N.J.) went 3-for-5 with three runs and three RBIs to lead the bats, while sophomore Vinny Zarrillo (Forked River, N.J.) picked up three hits and two RBIs of his own. Favatella is now batting 13-for-31 (.419) with 11 RBIs in seven games against Villanova.
Pat Young (1-3) suffered the loss after giving up three runs and five hits over seven innings. He struck out six and threw 120 pitches. B.J. Bochicchio led the hitters with three of the seven Villanova hits.
Rutgers took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning to score first for the ninth time this season, improving to 7-2 in such games. With one out, Favatella singled up the middle and stole second with two down. Zarrillo then grounded a single through the left side to score Favatella, as VU catcher Brandon Clark could not hold on to the ball during the play at the plate.
Both pitchers settled in from there until RU came through with a pair of runs with two outs in the fifth. Junior Pat Sweeney (Sparta, N.J.) walked to reach base with one down, being forced out on a grounder by freshman Matt Tietz (West Milford, N.J.) for the second out. Then Favatella roped a clutch double on a full count to score Tietz, who had stolen second. Following a walk to junior Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.), Zarrillo connected for his second RBI single of the day to chase home Favatella for the third run of the day.
That seemed be all the cushion Smorol needed as he continued to toss zero after zero on the scoreboard. Taking no chances though, Rutgers rallied again in the ninth to seal the deal. After two were retired, Sweeney and Tietz singled to set the stage for a three-run frame. Favatella next laced his second double of the game to score both runners, with O’Grady following with another RBI two-bagger to extend his hitting streak to 10 games and boost the advantage to 6-0.
Junior Charlie Lasky (Freehold, N.J.) sat down the first two batters in the ninth and freshman Howie Brey (Middletown, N.J.) recorded a strikeout to end it, preserving the second shutout win of the year.
The Scarlet Knights will look to notch another conference series win in the second game against Villanova Friday at 3:30 p.m. Senior Tyler Gebler (Toms River, N.J.) will take the mound for RU, boasting a 2-0 record and 3.86 ERA in four career appearances versus the Wildcats.
It is the fourth straight year RU and VU are meeting for a three-game series … Favatella has started the last 108 games … RU has had 10 games with double-digits hits … 4-4 now in series openers … game took 2:36.