Rookie propels RU in victory
As Monmouth centerfielder Kyle Perry popped up behind home plate to senior catcher Jeff Melillo with two outs in the top of the seventh, it signaled the start of freshman Howie Brey’s most important relief appearance in his short career.
Brey was able to last into the ninth, as the Rutgers baseball team (18-16, 8-4) defeated the Hawks, 7-6, yesterday at Bainton Field.
“How do I put this?“ said senior rightfielder Steve Zavala. “He showed some fortitude. Freshman coming in during a big spot, one run lead the whole way out, he showed a lot of fortitude.”
In a game that lasted more than three hours, both team combined for 28 hits.
But it was Brey (1-0) who inflicted the game’s most impressive performance, though it did not come without suspense for the Middletown, N.J., native.
With one out, Brey let up back-to-back hits to Monmouth (21-14), putting runners on first and second to put the tying run in scoring position.
With the Scarlet Knights’ regular closer in the bullpen, head coach Fred Hill elected to keep senior reliever Rob Corsi out in favor of Brey.
Brey responded with two consecutive outs, including a popup by Monmouth third baseman Chris Perett to freshman third baseman Matt Tietz in foul territory to end the game.
“I was feeling comfortable throughout the game,“ Brey said. “Then all the sudden I let up two big hits in a row, so it was a little nerve racking but I stayed calm and deliver.
Hill was unavailable for comment after the game. But associate head coach Joe Litterio said it was important for Brey to last the three and a third innings to save Corsi and the rest of the bullpen for the Knights’ weekend series against Pittsburgh.
“We used a lot of pitchers [Tuesday against Lafayette],” Litterio said.”Heading into this weekend with Pitt, you don’t want to use up your pen, so Howie went out there and showed he had command and showed he was getting outs, so we ran with him.”
Senior designated hitter Charlie Law put Rutgers up top, 6-5, with an RBI double in the bottom of the fifth to bring Zavala in. The Knights plated across two more runs before Monmouth secured the final out of the inning.
After Monmouth went up, 5-3, with a RBI single and double, Rutgers bounced right back in the bottom of the fourth with two runs of its own.
Junior centerfielder Brian O’Grady delivered his first RBI and second hit of the game in the bottom of the second with a single to the right side of the infield to score freshman third baseman Matt Tietz for a 3-0 lead.
Monmouth starter Anthony Ciavarella needed only six pitches for his first two outs in the bottom of the first. But an O’Grady single and three subsequent walks gave the Knights a 1-0 lead.
Rutgers gets a three-game road series against third-place Pittsburgh and will do so with a well-rested bullpen thanks to Brey.
“It was very important,“ Brey said. “My last outing I didn’t do so well, so its’ important for the coaches to get confidence in me and for me to try and pitch well for the team.”
For updates on the Rutgers baseball team, follow Bradly Derechailo on Twitter @Bradly_D. For general Rutgers sports updates, follow @Targumsports.