PISCATAWAY, N.J. (May 5, 2013) – Using a three-run sixth inning and a perfect three-inning save from senior Tyler Gebler (Toms River, N.J.), Rutgers baseball defeated Connecticut, 4-2, at Bainton Field Sunday to clinch the series victory. The win puts the Scarlet Knights at 10-8 in the BIG EAST, while the Huskies dropped to 9-12.
After the game, members of the team shaved their heads to support the Vs. Cancer Foundation. Led by senior Jeff Melillo (Annandale, N.J.), the Scarlet Knights raised over $13,000 towards pediatric cancer research.
Senior Rob Corsi (Oceanport, N.J.) (3-3) earned his first win as a starter this season by working six innings on the mound. The left-hander gave up a run in each of the first two innings, but rebounded to toss four scoreless frames to keep RU (22-25) in the game.
At the plate, redshirt freshman John Jennings (Berkeley Heights, N.J.) reached base three times on two hits, including the tying single in the sixth-inning rally. He also made four putouts and four assists at shortstop in support of the pitchers.
The Huskies (28-21) jumped up 2-0 after two, with starter Jordan Tabakman tossing five shutout innings to put the momentum on the side of the visitors.
However, Rutgers did not back down and rallied for three runs on four hits in the bottom of the sixth. Melillo and senior Steve Zavala (Randolph, N.J.) both singled off Tabakman to put runners at the corners, forcing a Connecticut pitching change with no outs. Senior Charlie Law (Mainland, N.J.) next stepped up and lifted a fly ball to right field for a sacrifice fly to make it 2-1. The rally continued when junior Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.) smacked a single to left and classmate Lou Clemente (Union, N.J.) walked to load the bases. Jennings then smashed a hard shot off the glove off the third baseman into the outfield, bringing home Zavala to tie the game. After another pitching change, freshman Matt Tietz (West Milford, N.J.) fell down two strikes but battled back to hit a fly ball deep enough into center field for a go-ahead sacrifice fly.
That led to Gebler taking the mound in only his second relief appearance since his freshman season. The right-hander did not allow the Huskies to reach base in three innings to earn his 14th career save, tying him for second-most in school history.
An insurance run came home in the bottom of the eighth inning on a pair of Connecticut errors to increase the lead to 4-2. Gebler notched one strikeout and two pop outs in the ninth, clinching the first series victory over the Huskies since 2007.
Dan Feehan (2-4) took the loss for the visitors, who used four pitchers in the game.
Rutgers will continue its season-long eight-game homestand with a 1 p.m. game against St. Peter’s Tuesday at Bainton Field. The next BIG EAST series will start Saturday versus Georgetown.
Jennings and Zavala had four of the RU six hits … UConn collected just five knocks … Gebler picked up 12 saves as a closer in his freshman season … the offense drew nine walks … the Scarlet Knights improved to 4-2 in rubber games … Law has a team-high five sacrifice flies … UConn won the series opener, 3-1, and RU took the second game, 9-4 … the game was played with temperatures in the low 60s and took 2:34.