Infielder leads new team to win with hit
Pat Kivlehan could only stop by for part of the Rutgers football team’s Pro Day. He had to leave early to play for his new team.
With the ding of a bat in the bottom of the fifth inning, the senior third baseman hit the first home run of his Rutgers baseball career for three RBI.
He sat back down to a facetiously silent Scarlet Knights dugout. He said it was one of the best feelings of his multi-sport career.
“It’s a great feeling. … A home run is pretty cool,” Kivlehan, a former safety, said on how it compares to intercepting a pass.
The Knights lineup clicked with a 5-0 win in its home opener at Bainton Field.
Kivlehan secured the 5-0 lead for Rutgers (9-9) with the homer to drive in sophomore centerfielder Brian O’Grady and junior catcher Jeff Melillo.
Pitcher Ryan Fasano entered the game with a 4.50 ERA and no wins to show for it.
With Fasano’s 0-3 record and Big East play looming, the lineup was productive at the right time.
“Everyone’s just not trying to do too much,” Kivlehan said. “Whatever the pitch is, [we] just go with it.”
The fifth inning was the last on the day for Rider pitcher David Hafer, who made his debut start.
The Knights lineup made it difficult for him. Although Hafer only walked two, he threw 36 balls in 90 pitches to Rutgers” patient hitters.
Hafer previously made eight appearances from the bullpen, and needed help from his fellow relief pitchers.
Fasano did not need as much aid. The Stony Point, N.Y., native pitched a shutout, Rutgers’ second in two games after junior pitcher Rob Corsi did the same against Sunday against No. 14 Stetson.
“It makes my job very easy. I can go to sleep,” Hill said. “We’re just pleased that they’re able to do that.”
Hill said he limits a pitcher to 135 pitches in nine innings. Fasano’s threw 100.
The righthander’s biggest jam came in the top of the eighth inning, which started badly for Fasano after Rider second baseman Justin Thomas led with a standup double.
Allowing two more baserunners, Fasano had the bases loaded with two outs. But Fasano got out of it after a groundout to first baseman Bill Hoermann.
Some of that poise came from Fasano’s pinpoint control. He struck out four and did not walk a single batter.
“[Walking no one] has never happened to me once this entire year,” Fasano said. “My fastball — I was spotting it up away, spotting it in. [My] changeup and slider were mixing in there well and keeping them off-balance.”
Not only did Kivlehan secure the win for Fasano, but Melillo also helped. In his first game as the No. 3 hitter at home, the catcher reached base twice — on a single and getting hit by a pitch — which set up the run he scored on Kivlehan’s home run.
But sophomore second baseman Nick Favatella was accustomed to the No. 2 slot, where he hit last year.
The difference this year is that Favatella developed power.
Despite being the smallest player in the lineup, Favatella recorded his team-leading third home run of the season in the first inning. No other Knight has more than one.
The victory moves Rutgers to .500 before it faces Seton Hall tomorrow for its first Big East series of the season.