It was an emotional day.
Before the extra-inning madness that ensued in the bottom of the twelfth inning Saturday, the Rutgers baseball team took the time to honor one of the greatest coaches ever to walk through the Rutgers athletic department.
Good ol' Moose.
Thanks Moose! pic.twitter.com/emWbXbvwaK— Rutgers Baseball (@BaseballRU) May 10, 2014
Former baseball head coach Fred Hill was honored with the retirement of his No. 24 jersey during a pre game ceremony in front of a packed crowd at Bainton Field.
It was only right that Hill -- the winningest coach in Rutgers athletics history with 941 wins in 30 years -- was also honored with a win.
Senior second baseman Nick Favatella delivered a clutch single with two outs in the bottom of the twelfth inning and junior left fielder Vinny Zarillo beat out the throw to home plate as the Knights triumphed past the Bulls, 5-4, in walk-off fashion.
It was the twelfth consecutive win at home and seventh win in a row overall for Rutgers (26-22, 11-8), which is continuing to build its momentum more and more as it snowballs violently towards the AAC Tournament set to begin May 21 in Clearwater, Fla.
Favatella's walk-off single was the third hit of the day for the senior, who spent three years playing under Hill. The seasoned vet led the Knights at the plate, going 3-for-5 with two runs and a RBI in front of his former head coach.
His leadoff double in the ninth, which helped ignite a two-run rally to tie the game at four runs apiece and force the contest into extras, bolstered him past Rutgers legend and current Cincinnati Reds third baseman Todd Frazier on the all-time hits list. After the multi-hit game, Favatella is now in sole possession of third place with 243 hits behind Pete Zoccolilo (285) and Darren Fenster (315).
Right behind Favatella in the order was senior first baseman Brian O'Grady, who went 2-for-4 with a run and a RBI.
Before junior righty closer Jon Young picked up the win after two and two-thirds scoreless innings, freshman righthander Gaby Rosa held his own on the mound with another impressive start. In seven innings, the rookie scattered five hits and the lone run he surrendered was unearned.
Rosa exited in line for the win with a 2-1 lead as he handed the ball to redshirt freshman lefthander Max Herrmann, who looked to close out the last two innings for the save, but the southpaw ran into some trouble in the eighth.
After letting up a leadoff triple followed shortly by a throwing error by senior shortstop Pat Sweeney, Herrmann unraveled. The Bulls hit the southpaw up for four hits and pushed across three runs to take a 4-2 advantage into the ninth.
But thanks to a pair of Hill products in Favatella and O'Grady, the Knights went on to live for some extra rounds of the fight -- and boy, did they deliver a knockout punch in the twelfth round.