Rutgers baseball offense continued the production from the Nebraska series finale win in the blowout victory over St. Peter’s. Facing a formidable foe in Purdue, the bats were silenced in the crucial series opener.
Friday: Purdue 4, Rutgers 0
John O’Reilly got his normal Friday night start and it looked like he might get some run support in the second inning as the Scarlet Knights loaded the bases with one out. Unfortunately Kevin Welsh struck out looking and Luke Bowerbank flew out. It would turn out to be Rutgers’s best opportunity all evening. Purdue capitalized in the bottom half with two of their own on a squeeze bunt that after the dust settled had two runs across.
The Scarlet Knights next chance came in the 4th when Kyle Walker and Welsh each walked with two out. Bowerbank singled up the middle and Walker initially headed toward home but had to retreat. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get back and Rutgers was left scoreless after a good throw by Purdue’s catcher Nick Dalesandro beat Walker back to 3rd.
After a nice double play started by Welsh in the 5th kept it a 2-0 deficit, Rutgers had back to back singles to being the 6th from Jawuan Harris and Carmen Sclafani. Chris Folinusz bunted to kept Rutgers out of a double play situation, but that was moot after Harris was picked off third base. Walker grounded to first base with a nice fundamental play by the pitcher covering to end the top half.
Purdue responded in the bottom half with their third run of the game. A leadoff double was followed by a sac bunt that Welsh could not handle catcher Nick Matera’s throw at first base. A sac fly brought the runner in, but O’Reilly escaped further damage to keep Rutgers within three.
O’Reilly remained in the game for the 7th and a leadoff single by Dalesandro turned into a runner at second after an error by Harris in center field. Jawuan would gun down a runner later in the inning, but not after the Boilermakers fourth run had crossed the plate. Kyle Gerace with help from Ryan Wares combined to pitch out of trouble in the 8th, but Rutgers came up empty in the 9th for a 4-0 loss to begin the critical Big Ten series.
Decisive stat: Only one run was unearned but Rutgers made three errors. Those resulted in extra pitches for O’Reilly.
Notable: Purdue wanted little of Harris at the plate, he went 1-2 with two walks and a stolen base. Folinusz was the only player with two hits. O’Reilly (5-2) went seven innings, allowing three earned runs.
Opponent notables: Starting pitcher Tanner Andrews went seven shutout innings allowing four walks, five hits, and striking out six. Dalesandro, first baseman Jacson McGowan, and DH Evan Kennedy each had two hits.
Conference play continues at Purdue Saturday with a 6 pm first pitch. The series concludes Sunday beginning at 11 am.
Next Tuesday Columbia visits Bainton Field Tuesday at 1 pm.