PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. (March 29, 2013) – Senior Tyler Gebler (Toms River, N.J.) pitched a three-hit shutout to help Rutgers baseball defeat Villanova, 2-0, and clinch the series Friday at Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth. It second straight day the Scarlet Knights held the Wildcats scoreless.
RU improves to 4-1 in the BIG EAST with the victory and 10-12 overall. Through five league games, the starting pitchers have surrendered just four earned runs over 38.2 innings for a 0.93 ERA.
Gebler (2-3) shined in his sixth career complete game, allowing three hits and nothing else in the two-hour masterpiece. He tied his career high with eight strikeouts and did not permit a walk or hit a batter, facing three over the minimum. It was his first career shutout as he ties classmate Rob Smorol (Clark, N.J.) for fourth in RU history with 269.0 collegiate innings pitched. Gebler improved his record to 3-0 against Villanova, giving up just five earned runs in 27.1 innings (1.65 ERA).
The defense played errorless ball behind the right-hander, with 15 grounders successfully converted into outs.
After surrendering a leadoff single in the first, Gebler proceeded to settle in and retired the next 11 batters to lock in a pitcher’s duel with Villanova starter Stephen Ostapeck. He then allowed a two-out single in the fourth with two down, but quickly exited the frame with a strikeout to start a string of another 11 batters retired consecutively.
The Rutgers offense broke through to support Gebler with a pair of runs in the seventh. The rally started when sophomore Vinny Zarrillo (Forked River, N.J.) grounded a ball up the middle that deflected off the glove of lunging VU second baseman Adam Goss and into left-center, allowing him to reach second on a double. Senior Jeff Melillo (Annandale, N.J.) followed with a sacrifice bunt to move Zarrillo over to third with one out. Then senior Steve Zavala (Randolph, N.J.) attacked the first pitch in the next at bat and lined a shot just over Goss’ glove at second, bringing in the first run of the day on an RBI single. The rally continued as Zavala moved all the way to third on a wild pitch from first, and scored on another wild one with two outs.
That would be all Gebler needed, but the Wildcats attempted to mount a comeback in the eighth when Max Beerman doubled with one out and moved to third with two down. However, the senior turned it up a notch and recorded a looking strikeout to end the threat. In the ninth, the Gebler registered a strikeout and two groundouts to seal his 11th career victory and preserve the shutout.
Ostapeck (0-3) took the loss for the hosts after giving up two runs and six hits in 7.2 innings. The Wildcats fell to 6-18 on the season and 0-2 in conference.
Rutgers will look to sweep Villanova for the second straight year, with senior Charlie Law (Mainland, N.J.) taking the mound for the game Saturday at 1:15 p.m. He worked eight innings to pick up a win in his last start at Louisville.