It started with a freshman and ended with a senior.
In the first game of a three-game series taking place this weekend at Bainton Field, the Rutgers baseball team came back from one-run deficit on a two-run single down the first base line by senior outfielder Lou Clemente for a 4-3 walk-off thriller over Hartford.
With one out and runners on second and third in the bottom of the ninth inning, head coach Joe Litterio inserted the seasoned vet for sophomore catcher R.J. Devish, who was hitless on the day.
Rutgers tallied nine hits against the Hawks, but could never really cash in. Prior to the two-run rally in the final frame of the game, the Scarlet Knights managed to scratch across one run in the third and eighth innings.
Freshman center fielder Mike Carter hit a frozen rope down the right field line to put the Knights on the board first, before junior left fielder Vinny Zarillo knocked in the second run of the game to narrow the deficit to one run heading into the game's final inning.
Sophomore left-hander Howie Brey turned in a phenomenal effort on the mound, going deep into the game by tossing seven innings and limiting the Hawks to two runs on five hits. Redshirt-freshman lefty Maxx Herrmann stepped in for two innings of relief, but couldn't hold the game where it was after surrendering Hartford's third run of the game.
Hartford, which used an array of pitchers throughout the contest, inserted senior righthander Alex Gouin to close out the ballgame.
On the first pitch he saw, freshman right fielder Tommy Marcinczyk locked in and laced a leadoff single back up the middle to get the wheels turning. It then turned into a chess game, with Litterio deciding to have freshman third baseman Christian Campbell lay down a sacrifice bunt to move the tying run into scoring position.
Whatever it was, Gouin was rattled. The senior threw a wild pitch, allowing Marcinczyk to move to third, and then plunked senior shortstop Pat Sweeney.
Sweeney then stole second uncontested, putting runners in scoring position.
Litterio's next chess move? Insert Clemente.
The senior obviously didn't disappoint, lining a screamer down the right field line to give the Knights a thrilling 4-3 walk-off win to start what has the makings of being a good series.
Rutgers (13-17) continues its three-game set with Hartford (17-12) on Saturday and Sunday. Both games are slated for a 1 p.m. start.