Rutgers Drops Fourth Straight Weekend Series In Big East Baseball
Monday, May 16, 2011 • 5:06pm
The Rutgers University baseball team dropped another weekend series on Sunday, May 15, falling two games to one to Big East rival Villanova at Villanova Ballpark in Plymouth Meeting, Pa.
Rutgers has now dropped four straight series and has not won a three-game set since the weekend of April 15 at home against Cincinnati.
The Scarlet Knights (18-29, 8-15) began the weekend on a high note with an, 8-2, victory on the night of Friday, May 13. The game looked to be closely contested early as neither team could gain an advantage in a, 1-1, ballgame after four innings, but Rutgers blew the game wide open in the fifth.
Villanova starter Kyle Helisek retired the first two Knights of the inning on two pitches and appeared to be cruising before the Knights started roughing him up.
Rutgers connected on four straight doubles by senior right fielder Michael Lang, freshman second baseman Nick Favatella, senior third baseman DJ Anderson, and junior first baseman Russ Hopkins and a single by freshman designated hitter Michael Zavala to bring home four runs and knock Helisek out of the game.
Senior centerfielder Brandon Boykin added another double off Villanova reliever Matt Longfield to bring home Zavala for the fifth run of the inning and extend the Rutgers lead to 6-1.
Villanova added another run in the bottom half of the inning on a triple by Matt Fleischman, but that would be the extent of Villanova’s offense on the evening.
Rutgers added extra runs in the sixth and ninth on more doubles by Favatella and Boykin. Three of the Knights’ 13 hits came from Lang, who upped his career total to 221, good for sixth in Rutgers history.
Rutgers starter Tyler Gebler enjoyed the run support as he improved his record to 4-5 for the season. Gebler produced seven innings of two run ball and added five strikeouts.
The Knights received another solid outing from a starter on Saturday, May 14, as Rob Smorol provided six scoreless innings with six strikeouts. He also received solid run support as the Knights opened up a 3-0 lead before a rain delay forced play to be suspended for more than an hour in the top of the seventh.
Villanova scored a run in the bottom of the eighth on a Rutgers throwing error, but the Knights got it back in the top of the ninth.
Shortstop Pat Sweeney singled for Rutgers then was hit home on an RBI triple by Lang to extend the Knights’ lead to, 4-1, heading into the bottom of the ninth. The triple gave Lang 13 in his career and tied him for third in Rutgers history.
Closer Jerry Elsing, making his first appearance since April 8, came in to end the game for Rutgers and struck out the first opposing batter before giving up three walks to load the bases. He then gave up a single for another Villanova run and was pulled in favor of freshman reliever Joey Esposito.
Esposito did not fare much better as he let up another single with the bases still loaded to bring the game to, 4-3. Designated hitter Dain Hall then ended the game with one swing as he brought home both the game tying and game winning runs on a double.
The Knights suffered another heartbreaking loss in the rubber match of the series on Sunday, May 15, in another 5-4 defeat. Villanova registered its second walk-off win in a row on a home run by first baseman Tyler Reich in the bottom of the tenth inning.
The Wildcats took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the second inning and the score remained that way for the majority of the afternoon. Rutgers starter Ryan Fasano and reliever Rob Corsi subdued the Villanova offense through eight while the Rutgers bats heated up.
The Knights started off the ninth with a triple by Boykin and a walk drawn by Zavala. A sacrifice fly by first baseman Bill Hoermann brought Boykin home for the game’s tying run. Two walks loaded the bases and another sacrifice fly from Favatella put Rutgers in front heading into the final frame.
Villanova pushed another run across with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning to send the contest into extra innings where they would eventually win on the Reich homer. Corsi took the loss for Rutgers bringing him to .500 for the season at 4-4.
The Knights' final home game on Bainton Field, against in-state rival Monmouth University, set for Monday, May 16, was rained out and will not be made up.