CLEARWATER, Fla. (May 25, 2013) – No. 5 seed Rutgers baseball came up on the wrong side of a pitcher’s duel in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championships, falling to No. 8 Connecticut, 2-1, Saturday at Bright House Field. The loss eliminates the Scarlet Knights from the event.
RU finishes the season at 28-30, having made it to the last four of the tournament after dropping its opening game. It was the final game Rutgers competed in as a member of the BIG EAST Conference.
Senior Rob Corsi (Oceanport, N.J.) (3-4) pitched seven solid innings to keep the Scarlet Knights within striking distance, giving up one earned run and one walk in a tough-luck defeat. The left-hander struck out two and had one stretch of retiring 16-of-17 batters.
Offensively, senior Jeff Melillo (Annandale, N.J.) and junior Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.) each collected two hits. O’Grady finished the tournament hitting .500 (6-for-12) with three doubles, accumulating a .533 on-base percentage in the four games.
All the runs in the game came in the first two innings, with the Huskies scoring theirs right away in the first inning. After a leadoff single by Tom Verdi and a groundout to catcher to advance him, LJ Mazzilli hit an RBI double for the run of the day. An error in the outfield continued the inning and a wild pitch allowed the second score to come across, unearned.
Following that, Rutgers rallied back to plate one. Melillo singled to start and moved up when senior Steve Zavala (Randolph, N.J.) reached on an E7. Senior Charlie Law (Mainland, N.J.) then grounded to the third baseman, who touched third and threw the ball into the stands to allow second and third with one out. O’Grady stepped up and took advantage of the situation with a sharp RBI single into right-center. The Huskies escaped the jam with a double play, as the first baseman touched the bag and threw home to end the rally.
From there, RU put runners in scoring position in the fifth, seventh and ninth, but could not convert to tie the score.
Jordan Tabakman (6-2) earned the win after pitching seven innings and Pat Butler picked up his fourth save for the Huskies, who advance to Sunday’s championship game against Notre Dame.
Head coach Fred Hill ends his 37th season of collegiate coaching with 1,089 victories, including 942 wins in 30 years at Rutgers. The program finishes the BIG EAST Championships with a 27-25 record in 13 appearances.