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Rutgers Baseball wins series at Old Dominion

Three outs away from sweep, team falls in finale.

West Virginia v Rutgers
Baseball takes first series of season.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights Baseball defeated Wagner on Tuesday then were at Old Dominion this past weekend. After taking the first two games to stretch the win streak to three, the team was three outs away from a sweep. Unfortunately, the Knights were downed in the bottom of the 9th, leaving a bad taste in their mouth as they left Norfolk. Here’s how it went down.

Friday: Rutgers 7, Old Dominion 6

Rutgers baseball returned to the road and were greeted rudely by their hosts Old Dominion with four runs in the first inning. The Scarlet Knights immediately battled back with three in the second and from there the teams traded zeroes. Chris Folinusz homered to tie it in the 7th, just the Knights second home run of the season. From there the teams exchanged barbs but another RBI from Folinusz in the 9th for an insurance run was enough as Karl Blum nailed down his second save of the year.

Decisive stat: 98 pitches. Despite John O’Reilly needing over 30 pitches to get through the first inning, he managed to complete six innings without allowing another run. This was huge as not only did it allow Rutgers to come back, it allowed them to keep the rest of the staff fresh for the remainder of the series. This type of senior leadership and resiliency is huge early in the campaign.

Notable: Kevin Welsh scored two runs, Mike Nyisztor had two doubles, and Luke Bowerbank had two RBI. Jawuan Harris stole another base.

Saturday: Rutgers 9, Old Dominion 6

Rutgers didn’t build on the momentum from Friday initially, but the offense picked up gradually as the game went along. Freshman Harry Rutkowski battled through five and two third innings but departed with the Knights trailing 5-4.

Decisive stat: Five runs for the Knights in the 8th inning. Pinch hitter Milo Freeman tied the game with a single, then RBI hits from Nyisztor and Dan DiGeorgio made it 8-5. DiGeorgio stole third and then Harris hit a sac fly to get him in for the Knights final run.

Notable: Serafino Brito wasn’t perfect, but the former starter was able to deliver the game’s final nine outs for the win. Nyisztor, Nick Matera, Folinusz, Kyle Walker, and Tyler McNamara all added two hits each. Nyisztor had three RBI on the day.

Sunday: Old Dominion 4, Rutgers 3.

The Scarlet Knights had all the momentum heading into the game and behind starting pitcher Eric Heatter mowing down hitters for seven scoreless innings. After a clean frame from Ryan Wares, Rutgers led 3-0 in the 9th inning. But then RU learned the same lesson the Monarchs did the night before, that no lead is safe.

Decisive stat: Four runs in the 9th inning all with two out. Closer Karl Blum gave up a hit, but then got a groundout and a strikeout. A walk then a triple cut the game to 3-2. Another walk, then a game tying single and Blum was removed from the contest. Collin Kiernan needed one out to send the game to extras but served up a game winning single.

Notable: Bowerbank had two hits and two RBI, but the RU offense struggled most of the day. Heatter was tremendous in this game and on the season.

Next up: Home Tuesday against Iona at 3:00 pm before a spring break Florida trip. The first leg of the trip is a three game weekend set against Army. Yes, it’s a lot farther than heading to West Point to meet the Black Knights.