Dan Gatto’s full arsenal of pitches stymied the Scarlet Knight batters for his first complete-game as the University of Delaware baseball team seized a 4-2 win over Rutgers Wednesday afternoon at RU’s Bainton Field.
Delaware (28-16) snapped a two-game losing skid and avenged a 4-2 loss to the Scarlet Knights earlier in the season in Newark. Rutgers’s (20-24) saw its losing streak extend to five games.
“This is what we really needed, someone to step up and control the game from the mound,” said Delaware head coach Jim Sherman. “Gatto was strong from the start and really battled until the end.”
Gatto (4-2) mixed his pitches throughout the game and held Rutgers to two earned runs as the junior right-hander scattered five hits with three walks and three strikeouts. He held RU scoreless in eight of the nine innings he pitched.
The Blue Hens struck first in the top of the second and fourth innings when Delaware plated a run in each frame on bases-loaded double plays for an early 2-0 advantage.
In the bottom of the sixth inning the Scarlet Knights knotted the game at 2-2 as RU produced a run-scoring triple by Nick Favatella and Steve Zavala’s groundout at first base drove in Favatella from third base.
With EJ Stoltzfus on first and Nick Ferdinand at second and one out in the top of the seventh inning, Brock Niggebrugge tapped a groundball to RU’s first baseman Charlie Law, who committed a throwing error when he threw the ball behind reliever Sam Hasty, who was covering first base on the play.
The throwing error resulted in Ferdinand scoring the game-deciding run from second base and allowed Stoltzfus to reach third base on the play. Niggebrugge would coax a throw to second base on a double-steal attempt and would stay in a rundown long enough for Stoltzfus to score the second run of the inning and give the Blue Hens a 4-2 lead.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Rutgers’ Zavala lifted a fly ball deep to the warning track in right field, but Ferdinand jumped and reached over the wall to make the catch and steal a home run. The catch kept the momentum in Delaware’s favor as Gatto moved on to clinch the complete-game win.
“The ball goes over the fence and Nick doesn’t catch it Rutgers gets reenergized and is only one-run down,” said Sherman. “Luckily he caught the ball and Gatto finished things.”
Delaware’s offense did not produce a RBI in the victory as the Blue Hens collected six hits on the day. Stoltzfus led UD with two hits and two runs scored while Ferdinand tallied the other two runs scored in the game for the Hens. Jimmy Yezzo, the nation’s leading hitter with a .444 batting average, extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single in the top of the ninth inning.
RU tallied five hits in the loss as recently named Johnny Bench Award watch list selection, catcher Jeff Melillo, was the only Scarlet Knight with two hits.
Rutgers reliever Hasty (0-1) suffered his first defeat of the season as the right-hander was charged with two unearned runs on two hits and one walk in 2.2 innings pitched. Scarlet Knights starter Slade McCue received a no-decision after the righty yielded two earned runs on three hits, eight walks and two strikeouts in 4.1 innings pitched.
Delaware continues its non-conference week with a three-game weekend series against La Salle University beginning on Friday, May 5, at Bob Hannah Stadium. The Blue Hens will hand the ball to right-hander Chad Kuhl (7-2, 3.84 earned-run average) in the opener against the Explorers.
“Gatto did a great job today," said Sherman. "Next up is Chad and we are going to see if he can top Danny’s performance on Friday."