Rutgers Edges USF 2-1 To Return To Big East Semifinals



CLEARWATER, Fla. -  Rutgers pitcher Tyler Gebler scattered five hits and allowed just one run in 8.1 innings as the Scarlet Knights advanced to the semifinal round of the Big East Baseball Championship with a 2-1 win against USF Friday night at Bright House Field.
Rutgers, which is seeded No. 5 in the tournament, staved off elimination for the second straight game to get to a semifinal matchup against Connecticut Saturday at 1 p.m. The Scarlet Knights, who dropped their opening game of the tournament Wednesday, would need to defeat the Huskies twice Saturday to reach Sunday's final. USF, which dropped a heartbreaker to Connecticut Thursday night, was eliminated from the tournament after its second loss.
Gebler, who has seen action as a starter and a closer this season, delivered a strong start Friday as he threw an efficient 80 pitches with 55 strikes. He retired the first 12 USF hitters in order and worked six 1-2-3 innings to improve to 4-6 on the year.
Rutgers' offense came from a pair of RBI doubles. Brian O'Grady brought Charlie Law from second with a two-bagger in the bottom of the fourth inning, while Nick Favatella smacked a double to right  in the fifth.
The only threat USF mounted came in the top of the fifth, when catcher Blake Sydeski's two-out base hit to left scored Buddy Putnam from second. The only other inning in which the Bulls had a runner in scoring position was the ninth, when Alex Mendez smacked a leadoff single and was sacrificed to second. But Nathaniel Roe came on to get a strikeout and groundout to end the game and register his fifth save.
Law and Steve Zavala were both 2-for-4 for Rutgers, which improved to 28-29 with the win. 
USF (36-22) managed just five hits - all singles - which wasn't enough to support starting pitcher Joey Lovecchio. Lovecchio wwent 5.1 innings and allowed two runs on eight hits with two strikeouts. Lovecchio fell to 5-6.