Knights win with power, small ball
Bill Hoermann and Pat Kivlehan would likely not fit in with the Wagner baseball team as it is constructed.
Considering the Seahawks’ small-ball approach, the Rutgers baseball team is a better match for the corner infielders.
Wagner would have liked Hoermann and Kivlehan’s power on its side yesterday in the Scarlet Knights’ 13-8 win against the Seahawks at Bainton Field.
“You’re going to need a groundball to second base with one out, something like that,” said head coach Fred Hill. “The fact that we can bunt and move runners and still swing the bat for a home run every once in a while — that’s very important.”
Kivlehan hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to give the Knights a 9-2 lead. It was the senior third baseman’s third home run of the season, as many as Wagner’s entire team.
The 6-foot-8 Hoermann performed with the power one would expect from a player of his size and position — first base.
The junior recorded a double and a home run, the latter giving him two RBI on the day.
Hoermann’s production put the game out of reach for the Seahawks, giving Rutgers (12-10, 2-1) a 5-1 advantage in the bottom of the fifth inning.
His home run could not have been timelier for the Knights, who never know what their bullpen will give them.
Senior pitcher Ryan Fasano only pitched four innings because he might pitch Sunday against Georgetown. He allowed only two hits and no runs.
But sophomore reliever Charlie Lasky (3-0) broke the shutout, and the 1-0 lead was a 1-1 tie in the top of the fifth.
Wagner (9-15) scored like a team with a .304 slugging percentage — with a ground-ball single. Leftfielder Jayson Keel grounded it to short right field, scoring third baseman Tommy Higgins.
Lasky allowed two earned runs in as many innings¸ senior righty Willie Beard allowed three runs in the eighth and junior righty Joe Esposito allowed two in the ninth.
It did not matter. Rutgers also scored without swinging for the fences.
“Most of the guys are looking to hit for average and looking to get on base,” Hoermann said. “The small-ball game is what gets the runners on.”
Sophomore shortstop Pat Sweeney walked in the sixth inning. Sophomore centerfielder Brian O’Grady advanced Sweeney to second with a sacrifice bunt. Then junior catcher Jeff Melillo scored Sweeney on a double.
Despite Kivlehan’s spot at cleanup, he also played with the same grit Wagner did on the base paths — the Seahawks stole two bases. That was how he recorded his first of three runs and also one of his four RBI.
Kivlehan stood on first base in the fifth inning before sophomore designated hitter Ross Costello shot a double down the leftfield line.
Sophomore second baseman Nick Favatella scored from second, but Kivlehan did not get to score standing up. He slid into Wagner catcher Hayden Hunter, who never completely gripped the ball.
“Most of my RBI, I didn’t really hit them that well,” Kivlehan said. “I just put them in the right spots. The home run, I just let the wind take it out.”
Wagner hit for extra bases only twice, both on Brown doubles. But the Knights’ combination of power and scrappiness clinched the victory.