Baseball: Smorol dominates Wildcats
Rutgers Head Baseball Coach Fred Hill said before practice Wednesday he wanted to see a completely different effort than the one on display in Tuesday’s loss to Rider.
Hill got all that and more yesterday, as Rutgers (9-12, 3-1) defeated Villanova, 6-0, to capture the first game of a three-game series against the Wildcats.
Senior lefthander Rob Smorol went eight innings for the Knights, pitching a shutout on five hits to collect his third win of the season.
But despite the dominant performance, Hill signaled for junior reliever Charlie Lasky to finish the game.
The move did not come without suspense.
Villanova (6-17, 0-1) threatened in the bottom of the ninth as it had the bases loaded with two outs and second baseman Morris Emmanuel up.
After Lasky was brought in to spell Smorol, he gave up two hits. Hill then signaled for Howie Brey to get the Knights out of the jam.
Brey responded with a strikeout of Emmanuel to keep Rutgers toward the top of the Big East standings.
Rutgers received half of its run total in the top of the inning, when senior second baseman Nick Favatella doubled to right center to drive in junior shortstop Pat Sweeney and freshman third baseman Matt Tietz for a 5-0 lead. For Favatella, it brought his RBI total to three in the game. Junior outfielder Brian O’Grady added an insurance run on an RBI double for the final score.
After a first-inning RBI single by sophomore outfielder Vinny Zarrillo, the game became a stalemate until the top of the fifth.
Zarrillo and Favatella each delivered RBI base hits to bring the lead to 3-0.
While the Wildcats had a hard time keeping Rutgers off of the scoreboard, they had an even worse time trying to get on it.
Though Villanova had seven hits, they produced no runs as Smorol showed why he is Rutgers No. 1 starter.
The Knights were also able to avoid a letdown to a less talented opponent with the win, and a sweep against the Wildcats would do wonders for a team who struggled against teams of any caliber earlier in the season.
Rutgers will play Villanova in the second game of the three-game series today beginning at 3:30 with senior righthander Tyler Gebler starting on the hill.
For more updates on the Rutgers baseball team, follow Bradly Derechailo on Twitter @Bradly_D.