EASTON, Pa. (April 16, 2013) – Rutgers baseball scored five in the top of the sixth inning to break an 8-8 tie on the way to defeating Lafayette, 14-8, Tuesday at Kamine Stadium. The offense scored in six of the first seven innings, with all nine hitters reaching base safely at least twice in the game.
The victory put the Scarlet Knights back over .500 at 17-16, while the Leopards fell to 6-31. It was the first of four games this week for RU in the state of Pennsylvania, as the squad will take on No. 25 Pittsburgh in a BIG EAST road series starting Friday.
Both senior Steve Zavala (Randolph, N.J.) and sophomore Vinny Zarrillo (Forked River, N.J.) collected three hits to lead the 15-hit attack against the Leopards, while freshman Matt Tietz (West Milford, N.J.) and sophomore Nick Favatella (Washington Township, N.J.) each notched three RBIs. The offense also drew 10 walks and was hit by a pitch twice to put runners on base in all nine innings.
On the mound, sophomore Jon Young (Old Bridge, N.J.) (1-0) pitched the final 4.2 innings scoreless with four strikeouts and only one hit allowed to earn his first career victory. The right-hander retired 12 of the final 14 batters, needing only 51 pitches in the outing.
The Scarlet Knights scored in the first inning for the second straight game to jump out 2-0 and force LC starter Alex Farina to throw over 40 pitches. The rally started with two outs when junior Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.) walked and came around to score on a Zarrillo RBI double to the left field corner. Then an error and a walk loaded to bases for senior Charlie Law (Mainland, N.J.), who fought back from a 0-2 count to draw a walk to force in Zarrillo. The first baseman picked up three base on balls for the day.
The lead stretched to 3-0 in the second when Favatella connected for his third home run of the year and second to the opposite field. However, Lafayette answered back with a two-run shot by Tim Lazor in the bottom of the inning to make it 3-2.
The scoring continued in the third inning with two more runs produced by Rutgers. Senior Jeff Melillo (Annandale, N.J.) crushed a ball to right field with one out that appeared to be over the fence, but Leopard right fielder Alex Nickles reached up and deflected it back into the outfield with his glove to leave Melillo with a double. Zavala next stepped up and roped a solid RBI single into right-center to bring home Melillo. The right fielder proceeded to steal second with two outs and came around on an opposite field hit by freshman R.J. Devish (Beachwood, N.J.), who registered his first career RBI.
LC responded with four runs in the third to go up 6-5, scoring twice unearned after an RU error. The rally also featured three hits and a walk.
After senior Nathaniel Roe (Plainfield, N.J.) worked out of a two-on, no-out jam unscathed in the fourth, the offense score three times to recapture the lead. Zavala sent a homer to right field on a 3-1 pitch with one out in the fifth to knot the score at six. It was his fourth career long ball and first outside the state of Virginia. The rally continued after the home run with Law walking and Devish being hit by a pitch to force a pitching change. Sweeney followed with a walk to load the bases, as Tietz next bounced a ball over third base for a two-run double to put RU back on top, 8-6. The rookie now has eight doubles in 29 games.
In the bottom of the inning, Lafayette countered once again to tie the game on a two-run homer by Matt Lawrence to left field. Zarrillo made sure of no more runs in the frame by firing in a strong throw from left-center to prevent the base runner from stretching a hit into a double.
Zarrillo immediately came to the plate in the sixth and singled down the left field line to start a five-run rally that would send 11 batters to the plate and prove to be the difference in the game. Melillo followed with a single of his own and Zavala beat out a bunt down the third base line to load the bases. Law next executed a sacrifice fly for his second RBI of the day to make it 9-8. The next run scored on an error by the first baseman, but Devish was credited with an RBI for putting the ball in play. On the ball four to junior Pat Sweeney (Sparta, N.J.), the ball scooted past the catcher to allow Zavala to score on a passed ball for the third run. The last two tallies plated on a two-out, two-run single through the left side by Favatella.
It was the third time RU scored five runs in an inning, as the other two instances were in the 17-7 victory at Old Dominion back on Feb. 24.
The 14th run was added in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Tietz to plate Law. Rutgers has scored at least that amount the last three Tuesday games.
From there, Young pitched efficiently to cap off Rutgers’ 12th road win of the season. He ended the game by striking out the final two batters.
Freshman Reed Shuttle (Lansdale, Pa.) made his first collegiate start for the Scarlet Knights and lasted 2.1 innings for a no-decision. He became the first freshman to start a game for head coach Fred Hill since current senior Jerry Elsing (Montville, N.J.) on May 29, 2010 – a span of 138 games.
Connor McMahon (0-1) took the loss after giving up four earned runs for the Leopards.
RU will next to stay above .500 with a Wednesday home game against Monmouth at 3:30 p.m. RVision, presented by AT&T, will have the live broadcast from Bainton Field.
Law has recorded an RBI in 10 of the last 11 games … Zavala has draw seven walks over the last five games … Favatella has started the last 120 games and now has nine career home runs … RU has scored at least two runs in the first inning six times this season, notching a run in the frame nine times overall … Zavala previously had one homer at Old Dominion last season and two at William & Mary earlier this year … the offense reached double-digit hits for the 16th time in 2013 … RU is now 14-2 when scoring first … Zavala and Sweeney both reached base safely four times … Rutgers has drawn 43 walks in the last five games … four different Scarlet Knights stole bases … LC committed four errors … Favatella and Tietz both had seven plate appearances … the game lasted 3:39 and the game-time temperature was 65 degrees.