The baseball team started their defense of their 2011 Big East Championship with a win over in-state rival Rutgers, 6-1, in the first game of the 2012 Big East Championship.
All-Big East First Team selection Jon Prosinski shut down the Scarlet Knights, one of the better offensive teams in the Big East, allowing only one run on seven hits and striking out four in six innings.
Distance relief pitcher, senior Henry Warner got himself into a jam in the top of the ninth inning by loading the bases for Big East Triple Crown winner and Big East Player of the Year Patrick Kivlehan, the guy Rutgers probably wanted in the position to cut the lead to one run.
In three innings of relief, Warner allowed no runs and only one hit to earn the save, his first of the season.
Warner forced Kivlehan to fly out to Scott Kalamar in left field to preserve the victory.
Kivlehan went 0-4 during the game, including coming up empty with two chances with the bases loaded. He reached base once on a walk.
The Pirates got the action started in the home half of the first inning with senior Will Walsh hitting into a double play which scored sophomore Zack Granite, who reached base on a walk.
Prosinski got himself into a jam in the top of the third. With runners on the corners, second baseman Nick Favatella singled to left field, driving home center fielder Brian O’Grady.
A walk to catcher Jeff Melillo loaded the bases for Kivlehan.
With a 1-2 count, Prosinski blew a fastball right by his fellow All-Big East First Teamer, for the second out of the inning.
After falling behind 2-0 to the next batter Steve Zavala, Prosinski jammed the batter for a groundout to first baseman Michael Betz. Prosinski escaped the inning allowing only one run, which turned out to be the only run of the game.
In the bottom of the third with two outs, Kalamar doubled to the gap in right center, bringing home Walsh and junior shortstop Giuseppe Papaccio.
The next batter, freshman Kyle Grimm, singled to center driving home Kalamar to give the Pirates a 4-1 lead.
In the top of the fifth, the Prosinski once again found himself in a jam. With runners on second and third, the Pirates elected to intentionally walk Kivlehan to load the bases.
This turned out to be a wise decision, because the Pirates got the next batter, Zavala, to hit into a double play.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, catcher Dillon Hamlin hit his first career home run to extend the Pirate lead to 5-1.
In the eighth inning, Papaccio lined a single to right field which scored second baseman Mike Genovese.
With the win, the Pirates are now in the winner’s bracket of the Big East Championship. The team will play the winner of the next game, No. 2 St. John’s and No. 7 Notre Dame, tomorrow at 1 p.m.
T.J. Brennan can be reached at Thomas.firstname.lastname@example.org