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Rutgers baseball falls to Princeton & Statistical update

Team continues Big Ten quest at Michigan State.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Chicago Cubs Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

After a weekend series win over Penn State, Rutgers hosted in state rival Princeton Wednesday for the first time since 2012. It was far from the prettiest game of baseball ever played, but someone had to win. The Tigers closer was able to shut the door in a 6-5 victory.

Princeton 6, Rutgers 5.

The Scarlet Knights (13-9) were victimized for the second consecutive game by their pitchers lacking consistent control. Rutgers got one run across in the 3rd, but Princeton (3-10) broke through with four runs in the top of the 5th on an RBI groundout followed by a three run homer from Connor Nolan. Collin Kiernan replaced starter Eric Reardon and faced a bases loaded one out jam but his early season success on stranding inherited runners could not continue.

Rutgers (starting all nine regulars) responded with a rally of their own to tie the game up 4-4. Mike Nyisztor singled, Jawuan Harris singled, then Nick Matera doubled in both runners. Chris Folinusz knocked in Matera with a groundout. Rutgers got two more baserunners but could not bring them in.

Through walks and productive outs Princeton regained a 6-4 advantage in the top of the 6th before Ryan Wares got out of a yet another bases loaded jam. In the bottom half, Nyisztor walked with one out and scored on a double to left center by Harris to cut the lead to 6-5. Harris mistakenly went for a triple and was gunned out for the second out. Matera popped out to close the frame.

Princeton’s 8th and 9th hitters ripped singles to open the 7th inning, but catcher Matera picked off the runner at second after a missed bunt attempt. Then on the very next pitch, a comebacker to Wares resulted in a double play for a huge momentum shift. Rutgers parlayed the momentum by loading the bases with none out in the bottom half, though Folinusz was injured sliding into third to beat the throw. The injury suddenly took the wind from Rutgers sails as Kevin Welsh’s slump continued as he struck out as did Luke Bowerbank. Dan DiGeorgio grounded out and Rutgers was unable to tie it up leaving all three runners.

Props to Princeton reliever Eli Kimbell who retired all three batters after inheriting a bases loaded, no out jam out of the bullpen in the decisive 7th. Kimbell continued his dominance retiring all nine batters he faced for an impressive three inning save, simply mowing down the Knights for an entire turn through the order. Midweek games are of less importance than conference weekend sets, but that is now twice this season (the other being Iona) where skipper Joe Litterio made winning moves without results. Closer Serafino Brito pitched two innings, but the team could not get a victory against an underdog local opponent.

Decisive stat: Tiger hurlers issued seven free passes, but RU walked ten and hit a batter. Both teams had nine hits. Jacob Kodros took the loss after walking two of the three batters he faced, both scored. In the final three innings Kimbell didn’t give away any free bases.

Notable: Kyle Walker singled in the 7th to extend his hitting streak to 17 games. Harris, Matera, and Sclafani each had two hits. Nyisztor scored three times. Tevin Murray faced two batters, hitting one with a pitch and walking the other. The 6’6” sophomore lefthander from Pennsylvania has a ton of potential. Phil Cundari has work to do though as Tevin has walked 22 batters (plus 5 HBP) in 10.1 career innings pitched.

Statistical Review (through 22 games)

Batting leaders

BA: Walker (.421), Sclafani (.364), Bowerbank (.329).

Hits: Bowerbank (25), Walker (24), DiGeorgio & Matera (23).

HR: Matera (2), four players tied with 1.

RBI: Nyisztor (19), DiGeorgio (16), Bowerbank (15).

Runs scored: Nyisztor & DiGeorgio (18), Bowerbank (17).

Stolen bases: Jawuan Harris (8), DiGeorgio & Nyisztor (6).

OBP: Walker (.493), Tyler McNamara (.486), Sclafani (.435).

NOTE: Anthony Greco has a perfect (1.000) OBP as he walked in his only plate appearance of the season. Anthony DeRosa does as well after he was hit by a pitch in his only PA.

Pitching leaders

W: Collin Kiernan & Harry Rutkowski (3), & John O’Reilly (2).

SV: Serafino Brito (3), Karl Blum (2).

ERA: Kiernan (2.19, 12.1 IP), Kyle Gerace (2.89, 9.1 IP), Eric Heatter (3.46, 26 IP).

SO: Rutkowski (32), Heatter (23), O’Reilly (22).

IP: O’Reilly (35.0), Rutkowski (32.0), Heatter (26.0).

Full official stats

Next up

Big Ten play continues with a trip to Michigan State this weekend.

Friday’s first pitch is scheduled for 3 pm. Saturday and Sunday will both be at 1 pm.

For MLB fans (Mets, Phillies, Yankees, or otherwise), opening day in the majors is tomorrow and look for a Knights in the Pros preview. Good luck Todd (father) Frazier and Patrick Kivlehan!

Again, Kyle Walker keeps his streak alive!