Rutgers Scarlet Knights Baseball defeated Penn State to begin the Big Ten slate Friday and they did it again Saturday in an even tougher pitcher’s duel, escaping with a 1-0 win.
O’Reilly’s complete game was enough to win a tough pitcher’s duel.
Saturday: Rutgers 1, Penn State 0.
Rutgers offense pushed across an unearned run in the bottom of the second. With one out, Carmen Sclafani doubled to right. Then one batter later Luke Bowerbank reached on a similar play to the one that began the game Friday, where the first baseman could not come up with a throw from shortstop. As a result, Sclafani scored what ultimately would be the only run of the game.
Rutgers freshman starter Harry Rutkowski got his first taste of conference action and did not disappoint. The lefty tossed six and two-thirds innings of shutout ball, including only one major jam. In the bottom of the 4th a walk and a single followed by a sac bunt mirrored the same way Rutgers go on the board Friday. Rutkowski though bore down and whiffed the next two hitters to end the threat.
Coach Joe Litterio went to his fully rested bullpen in the 7th to protect the one run lead. Firemen Collin Kiernan inherited a runner at third with two out as Rutkowski had just thrown his 111th pitch and was running on fumes. Kiernan got Penn State’s Jordan Bowersox two line out to Kevin Blum in center field to bring on the 7th inning stretch.
Kiernan battled through two runners reaching in the 8th with one out. A foulout and a strikeout brought the Knights to bat, but they failed to get pinch runner Jawuan Harris in from third base and add any insurance. Closer Serafino Brito had a perfect 9th for his third save to clinch the series for the Scarlet Knights.
Decisive stat: One error. With both team’s pitchers mowing people down the game, the game came down to one play that wasn’t made by Penn State. Rutgers was often undone by defense in 2017, but they came through today.
Notable: Harris pinch ran for Kyle Walker. Walker got a pinch hit in his only at bat to keep his hitting streak alive. Sclafani had two (both doubles) of the team’s four hits. Bowerbank stole a base but was also caught once.
Opponent notables: Starting pitcher Taylor Lehman was the tough luck loser, allowing only five baserunners in his six innings. Leadoff man and centerfielder Bowersox had two hits and a stolen base. Catcher Ryan Sloniger didn’t have the same luck as Friday, going 0-4.
The series concludes Sunday at 1 pm as Rutgers (13-7) goes for the sweep. Probable starters - RU (Eric Heatter), Penn State (Dante Biasi).