HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (April 30, 2013) – Rutgers baseball jumped ahead early, but could not hold on in a walk-off 10-9 loss on the road to Hofstra Tuesday at University Field. Senior Charlie Law (Mainland, N.J.) hit two home runs to lead the offense, as it was the Scarlet Knights’ first visit to Hofstra since 1969.
In the bottom of the ninth inning of a tie game, Kevin Brantley hit a walk-off home run to lead Hofstra (23-21) to victory. The third baseman finished the day going 4-for-5 with two homers, three runs, three RBIs and a walk.
Freshman Howie Brey (Middletown, N.J.) (2-3) took the loss after pitching 2.1 innings in relief. He had retired the first two batters in the ninth and stranded two inherited runners when entering the game in the seventh. Brett Schreiber (2-2) earned the win with one scoreless frame worked.
At the plate, Law had four RBIs on his two long balls, with senior Steve Zavala (Randolph, N.J.) knocking in a pair of runs on two hits. Junior Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.) notched a pair of hits to go with a walk.
Rutgers (20-23) took the early lead when Law crushed his second home run of the season in the third to put the Scarlet Knights out in front, but Brantley responded with a long ball of his own for the Pride to tie the score.
In the fourth, RU had its best rally of the season with six runs on five hits to jump up 7-1. The inning started with a bunt single by O’Grady and a walk by senior Bill Hoermann (Toms River, N.J.) to put the pressure on against Hofstra starter John Tiedemann. Junior Lou Clemente (Union, N.J.) followed with a sacrifice bunt to move the runners into scoring position, with a wild pitch allowing O’Grady to score. After Hoermann was thrown out at the plate on a fielder’s choice, freshman Matt Tietz (West Milford, N.J.) and junior Nick Favatella (Washington Township, N.J.) continued the rally with infield singles to force the second pitching change of the frame. Zavala next worked a walk to earn an RBI and force home junior Pat Sweeney (Sparta, N.J.), making it 3-1. A wild pitch brought home Tietz and Law crushed a three-run homer to left-center to cap the rally. It was the most runs scored in an inning this year by the Scarlet Knights.
The Pride did not back down, however, and scored one in the fourth and four in the fifth to make it a 7-6 game.
Rutgers padded its lead with a pair of runs in the sixth. Tietz walked to leadoff, moving up on a balk and groundout to third base. Zavala then laced a line drive over the head of the centerfielder for an RBI double. On the following at bat, a wild pitch allowed Zavala to move to third and he scored on the same play when the catcher made an errant throw trying to pick off Zavala rounding the base too far. It was an unearned run.
Hofstra completed its comeback with a run in the seventh and nearly took the lead in the eighth, but senior catcher Jeff Melillo (Annandale, N.J.) blocked the plate on a relay throw to keep the game tied at nine.
After the top of the ninth ended on a strikeout-caught stealing double play, Brantley stepped up and cranked the winning home run over the wall in left-center on a 3-2 pitch with two down.
The Scarlet Knights will look to snap their four-game losing streak Wednesday at Bainton Field versus Delaware. Senior Pat O’Leary (Sparta, N.J.) will be on the mound with first pitch set for 3 p.m.