Rutgers Scarlet Knights Baseball were back in Fort Myers, FL taking on Florida Gulf Coast after a midweek win over Florida International. After taking the first two games, Rutgers was walked-off 9-8 in the finale, so close to a perfect spring break trip. The team completed the swing with six wins in seven games. Here’s how it went down:
Friday: Rutgers 13, FGCU 9
Rutgers baseball team had won four straight heading into the game and took a 2-0 lead in the third before FGCU piled up six runs in the bottom of the frame. Rutgers tied it in the 6th on a sac fly by Mike Nyisztor, then exploded for six of their own in the 7th to take a 12-6 lead with seemingly everyone contributing. Once again, FGCU answered to cut the deficit to 12-9 in the bottom half. Rutgers tacked on an insurance run in the 8th for the 13-9 final.
Decisive stat: 4-4 with 4 runs. Luke Bowerbank has just been unconscious lately as he also had an RBI and a walk.
Notable: Starter John O’Reilly was not helped by his defense, but completed 5 innings allowing 4 earned runs. Dan DiGeorgio had three RBI and a stolen base out of the leadoff spot. Nyisztor totaled 4 RBI himself. Kevin Blum scored three times, but his brother Karl struggled again, allowing three runs. Serafino Brito and Ryan Wares put up zeroes in the 8th and 9th out of the bullpen. Collin Kiernan picked up his third win of the season.
Saturday: Rutgers 6, FGCU 3
Neither team could break through until Nyisztor knocked in two in the 5th and McNamara one in the 6th to stake RU starter Harry Rutkowski to a 3-0 lead. A three run seventh behind RBI singles from Carmen Sclafani and Chris Folinusz were the insurance to power Rutgers to a 6-3 win.
Decisive stat: 2 ER. Rutgers pitching allowed only two earned runs with Rutkowski (6 innings), Tommy Genuario (1.1), Kiernan (0.2) and Brito (1) really holding the Eagles offense in check. When the pitching staff can keep teams down like that, wins should add up and they are right now for RU.
Notable: Nick Matera reached base in every game this season but had the day off. Kyle Walker now has a 13-game hitting streak as he added a double. Nyisztor had two RBI and two stolen bases. Kevin Blum was 2-3 with two runs scored, but did make an error. Brito got his second save and Rutkowski his second win of the year.
Sunday: FGCU 9, Rutgers 8
The Scarlet Knights took a 1-0 lead in the 3rd, but FGCU responded with three of their own in the bottom half. It remained a stalemate until the 6th when Rutgers stormed a furious rally, resulting in seven runs to take an 8-3 lead. The frame included RBI singles from Sclafani, Bowerbank, DiGeorgio, and Folinusz. In the 7th, the team handed the inning to Jacob Kodros (not normal 7th inning guy Karl Blum) and he retired only one of the four batters he faced. Ryan Wares entered the game but could not fare much better and when the dust settled, the game was tied 8-8 heading to the 8th. Karl Blum in his second inning of relief made an errant pickoff throw, then redeemed himself by cutting down the game winning run at home on a suicide squeeze. The next batter hit one to Kevin Welsh who couldn’t cut down another runner and FGCU escaped with a 9-8 win to avoid a sweep.
Decisive stat: 3 errors apiece. Both teams made three errors, but Rutgers’s miscues were more costly in the end. Kevin Welsh had two RBI, but also two errors and he leads the team with nine errors in 2018.
Notable: Rutgers outhit FGCU 10-8, led by Folinusz who went 3-5 with two runs, two RBI, and a rare stolen base. Bowerbank had two RBI as well. Starter Eric Heatter hurled a quality start, allowing three runs in six innings on the mound.
Next up: Wednesday at Rider at 3:30pm. Then a three game weekend set to begin Big Ten play, hosting Penn State March 23-25.