Part-time pitcher leads victory with three-run shot
When Charlie Law went to Dodd Stadium in Norwich, Conn., he received a change of scenery.
The Rutgers baseball junior not only escaped Storrs, Conn., where he blew a lead on the mound Friday, but Saturday, Law also got to put on a batting helmet.
The 6-foot-8 Law has a frame more similar to former major league pitcher Randy Johnson than any notable hitter, but the junior did damage at the home of the Single-A Connecticut Tigers.
Law did something that always turns baseball fans’ heads: the pitcher hit a home run.
The Mainland Regional High School (N.J.) product often plays designated hitter when he does not come out of the bullpen. Sometimes Law does both in the same game.
Law was happy to find a way to contribute in the Scarlet Knights’ 15-0 win against Connecticut.
“It helps not only me, but it helps our team a lot,” Law said. “We lost two games that we probably should have won.”
Law homered in the fifth inning to score junior third baseman Pat Kivlehan and junior rightfielder Steve Zavala.
The round trip gave Rutgers (22-17, 8-7) a 9-0 lead, which took a lot of pressure off of senior pitcher Ryan Fasano (4-3) and junior pitcher Dan O’Neill.
“It’s a lot easier to pitch when you’re up 9-0,” Fasano said.
Rutgers did not fare as well Friday, when UConn won both games of the doubleheader, 9-8.
The Huskies took both games with a combination of timely hitting and effective relief pitching, both of which put them ahead late in the games.
“That combination is very dangerous,” said head coach Fred Hill.
In the latter game, the Rutgers bullpen allowed four runs in three innings. Connecticut relief gave up two in seven, after starting pitcher Brian Ward’s early departure forced it to enter after three innings.
The final run the Knights allowed was in the 10th inning, when Huskies designated hitter Tim Martin singled to the right side to score rightfielder Stanley Paul from second.
UConn (23-17, 11-4) displayed a resiliency to bounce back. Sophomore second baseman Nick Favatella hit the go-ahead RBI to make it 8-7 in the top of the ninth. But then Huskies shortstop Tom Verdi recorded an RBI of his own to send it into extra innings.
“The first two games could have gone either way, but [Connecticut] made some big plays to win,” Hill said. “Those were two tough losses.”
All three Rutgers relievers allowed a run in that game, but Law was the only one to do so in the series opener.
Law entered in the eighth inning for sophomore righthander Charlie Lasky, who pitched 2 1/3 shutout innings of relief.
Law was on the other side of a home run, allowing a two-run shot to Huskies first baseman Ryan Fuller.
Like the ninth inning in the later game, Rutgers entered the eighth with an 8-7 lead. But the home run capped the Huskies’ lead to give them their first of two wins in the series.
“It’s one of the worst things,” Law said on giving up leads. “It’s my job to prevent that from happening.”
Rutgers was a different team than it was in the series finale, and Law was a different player. Putting the bat in his hand made all the difference.
“It feels good because I can lift the team in a couple of ways,” Law said. “I’ve been pitching and hitting since I was a little kid. I figured, ‘Why not just do it [at Rutgers],’ when I can help the team win in whatever way.”