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Rutgers Baseball comes back to take series with Nebraska

Genuario stellar out of the bullpen, Matera explodes.

Matera’s 5 RBI were the difference.
Bob Cancro

Rutgers baseball resumed Big Ten action Friday with a win against Nebraska. The series continued Saturday at Bainton Field with Nebraska’s onslaught evening the set at one game apiece. Sunday was a back and forth affair. Rutgers came back from a 4-2 deficit to take the rubber match.

Friday: Rutgers 4, Nebraska 2

John O’Reilly earns 5th win with help from defense, clutch hitting, and Brito.

Saturday: Nebraska 12, Rutgers 4

Nebraska put up five in the first and scored in seven of the game’s nine innings.

Sunday: Rutgers 8, Nebraska 4

Karl Blum got the start and was able to escape a bases loaded jam in the first, but Nebraska’s sluggers came back up in the third. Mojo Hagge got on base (no shock) and then superstar first baseman Scott Schreiber hit his 13th homer of the season, second of the series. Mike Nyisztor was left to watch a moonshot that still may not have landed.

Rutgers bottom of the order bats wreaked havoc in the bottom half. Milo Freeman broke the ice with a dribbler that somehow stayed fair along the first base line. Kevin Welsh walked and three batters later Jawuan Harris beat out an infield single to load the bases with two out for Nick Matera. Matera’s single tied the score 2-2.

Karl Blum (4 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 SO) was lifted in the 5th for Eric Reardon. Hagge walked to lead off, but then Reardon was able to retire the dangerous Schreiber. DH Jesse Wilkening singled in Hagge allowing the Huskers to regain the lead. Rutgers manager Joe Litterio elected to remove Reardon for Tommy Genuario. Genuario allowed a double to clean up man Luke Roskam to make it 4-2, but held the fort after that.

Again Rutgers rebounded immediately in their half of the inning. Kevin Welsh walked and after two were out, Jawuan Harris walked to extend the inning after Nebraska went to the bullpen. Matera came through once again, unloading a three run bomb to put Rutgers ahead 5-4, having driven in all five Rutgers runs at that point. The next batter Carmen Sclafani hit a tater of his own to make it 6-4 Scarlet Knights.

After Genuario pitched a scoreless 6th, Rutgers rallied once again. Dan DiGeorgio singled and then Freeman added a base knock as well. The streaking Welsh singled in DiGeorgio. After a sacrifice bunt from Karl’s brother Kevin, Nyisztor hit a sac fly that would be the last run scored in the contest.

Genuario pitched two more frames allowing just one more hit before being replaced by closer Serafino Brito in the 9th. Brito pitched a perfect 9th, retiring Hagge and Schreiber to end the game.

Decisive stat: 3.2 innings of scoreless relief from Genuario. Tommy did allow an inherited runner to score, but kept Nebraska off the board after that. His stat line included two walks, two strikeouts, only three hits allowed, and most importantly zero earned runs.

Notable: Matera has now surpassed his RBI total of a season ago when he was named third team All-Big Ten. Sclafani and DiGeorgio each stole a base. Rutgers turned two more double plays.

Opponent notables: Mojo Hagge continued to get on base (2-4 with a walk and two runs scored). Schreiber was 2-5. Starting pitcher Matt Warren threw 4.2 innings allowing three hits, three runs, and two walks, striking out five. Paul Tillotson pitched 2.2 scoreless innings of relief.

Next up

Rutgers is now 21-15 on the season, tied for 7th in the Big Ten standings at 6-6. The Huskers drop to 10th at 4-9. The series win is huge because Michigan State sits in 9th place and Rutgers has the tiebreaker against them as well. The top eight teams make it to the Big Ten conference tournament.

RU is in-state again at Rider next Tuesday April 24. Then a quick turnaround to host St. Peter’s Wednesday.

Big Ten play resumes at Purdue Friday at 6 pm in the first of a three game set.