TAMPA, Fla. (May 16, 2013) – Rutgers baseball fell behind early and could not recover, dropping the series opener at USF, 11-4, Thursday at USF Baseball Stadium. The result sets the Scarlet Knights as the No. 5 seed in the upcoming BIG EAST Championships.
Offensively, Rutgers (25-27, 13-9 BIG EAST) banged out 14 hits – the same amount as USF (34-19, 16-6 BIG EAST) – to reach double digits for the 23rd time this year. Sophomore Vinny Zarrillo (Forked River, N.J.) continued his hot hitting in conference play with four hits to raise his average to .407 in the league. Redshirt freshman John Jennings (Berkeley Heights, N.J.) also notched a career-high three knocks.
Coming in on a five-game conference winning streak, the game did not start out smoothly for the Scarlet Knights. The Bulls put together four runs on four hits in the first inning, adding five more runs to make it 9-0 after two. USF added a pair of runs in the fifth to put the game away.
That hole proved too steep for RU, but the offense continued to put runners on base. Zarrillo hit a two-out RBI double off the pitcher in the third to put RU on the board. Then in the fifth, senior Jeff Melillo (Annandale, N.J.) knocked in junior Nick Favatella (Washington Township, N.J.) with an RBI groundout. Junior Lou Clemente (Union, N.J.) and Jennings each recorded RBIs in the sixth. Rutgers stranded 10 on base on the night.
Senior Rob Smorol (Clark, N.J.) (5-6) suffered the defeat in his 14th start of the season, while USF’s Jimmy Herget (6-2) picked up the win.
Sophomore Jon Young (Old Bridge, N.J.) provided valuable relief out of the bullpen for RU, working the final 3.1 innings without surrendering a hit or run. The right-hander struck out four in the outing.
Rutgers had not played USF since 2011, a span of 68 BIG EAST games.
Game two of the series is set for Friday at 7 p.m. Senior Charlie Law (Mainland, N.J.) will make the start on the mound for RU.