After a weekend series win over Michigan State (their 5th straight series win) Rutgers was scheduled to host former Big East rival Villanova Wednesday. After the Wildcats Tuesday contest with Big Five rival Penn was snowed out, that game was moved to Wednesday. As a result, the Scarlet Knights were left without an opponent unless something last minute surfaces. If nothing does, Rutgers will next take on former Atlantic 10 rival (and Philly Big Five member) LaSalle at home this weekend.
Friday (Game 1): Rutgers 8, Michigan State 4
O’Reilly goes eight innings, Rutgers offense contributes balanced attack in win.
Rutkowski dominates backed by Folinusz’s second multi-hit game of the day.
Sunday: Michigan State 6, Rutgers 0.
The Scarlet Knights (15-10) offense did not show up at all on a frigid day to back a now struggling Eric Heatter. The major exception was Chris Folinusz who had two more hits, and completed the series with multiple hits in all three games. Neither he nor Nick Matera could bring in Jawuan Harris who stole second and third in the top of the first with one out. After that Rutgers never had any momentum.
Michigan State got to Heatter with three in the bottom of the 4th in an inning that began with a leadoff walk followed by two doubles. A squeeze play brought in the third run and at that point it was evident the Spartans simply had more energy in the series finale. The next inning was more of the same as a single, balk, and stolen base were followed by a triple by Chad Roskelly. Another single made it 5-0 and Heatter was removed for Collin Kiernan.
As has been the case all year, the Scarlet Knights did their best to grab the momentum back in their next at bat. Rutgers only other major chance to avoid the shutout came in the 6th when Nick Matera walked with one out and Chris Folinusz followed with a double. Carmen Sclafani popped out, then Dan DiGeorgio was retired to leave two runners in scoring position. Michigan State tacked on one more run for a 6-0 final.
Decisive Stat: 5 hits. Rutgers only mounted five base knocks, while MSU had nine. It’s been a huge turnaround for Spartan sophomore starter Mason Erla who allowed 13 hits in 7.2 innings in 2017. He only allowed four hits in seven innings of work on Sunday.
Notable: Kyle Walker went hitless again after his huge hitting streak came to an end earlier in the week. Michigan State pressured Rutgers with stolen base attempts and bunts seemingly all day so expect some fundamentals to be worked this week. Kyle Gerace hadn’t pitched in a while but retired all three batters he faced. Rutgers pitchers only walked two batters, which had been a problem in other recent losses so that was a positive.
Opponent notable: Justin Antoncic went 2-3 with a stolen base and a run scored. Zack McGuire had a double, RBI, and a run scored. Danny Gleaves had two hits after not starting the previous two games.
Statistical Review (through 25 games)
BA: Walker (.369), Sclafani (.353), Luke Bowerbank (.337).
Hits: Bowerbank (29), Folinusz (28), DiGeorgio (26)
HR: Matera (2), four players tied with 1.
RBI: Mike Nyisztor (20), Folinusz & Bowerbank (17).
Runs scored: Nyisztor & DiGeorgio (20), Bowerbank (19).
Stolen bases: Harris (10), DiGeorgio (7), Nyisztor (6).
OBP: Tyler McNamara (.488), Walker (.463), Kevin Blum (.415).
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.
W: Harry Rutkowski (4), Kiernan & John O’Reilly (3).
SV: Serafino Brito (4), Karl Blum (2).
ERA: Kiernan (2.08, 13 IP), Gerace (2.61, 10.1 IP), Eric Reardon (3.00, 12 IP).
SO: Rutkowski (36), Heatter (26), O’Reilly (24).
IP: O’Reilly (43.0), Rutkowski (39.0), Heatter (30.2).
Friday’s first pitch against LaSalle at Bainton Field is scheduled for 3 pm. Saturday and Sunday will both be at 1 pm.
Big Ten play continues with a trip to Illinois, beginning with a night game April 13. At the moment, both teams are tied for 3rd in the Big Ten with a 4-2 conference record.
Off the field
Rutgers baseball is raising money for children with cancer, check out the link in the tweet below.