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Rutgers baseball overwhelms LaSalle in series opener

Matera stars at the plate to back O’Reilly.

NCAA Football: Indiana at Rutgers Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers Scarlet Knights Baseball has a Big Ten bye weekend after winning series with Penn State and Michigan State to open the conference slate. LaSalle took the trip up the turnpike attempting to end Rutgers’s streak of five consecutive weekend series victories. They will need to take the last two games to accomplish that.

Friday: Rutgers 11, LaSalle 1

The Rutgers (16-10) offense did plenty to back starter John O’Reilly in the first game of the series. In the first inning, Rutgers had two runs including Nick Matera’s first RBI of the day. Then in the second three runs came home including an RBI double from Matera.

LaSalle’s best chance to grab momentum came in the top of the 5th when they got two on with one out. O’Reilly got a strikeout and groundout to crush the hope. Later in the inning, RU started to really open it up on a sac fly from Carmen Sclafani (his 2nd of the afternoon) and a two RBI single from Luke Bowerbank. One inning later after O’Reilly got out of another jam, Nick Matera hit a two-run homer for his third and fourth RBIs of the contest to make it 10-0.

O’Reilly finished with a walk, five strikeouts, and only three hits allowed in six scoreless frames. LaSalle got on the scoreboard in the 8th, but RU returned the favor in the bottom half with A.J. Gallagher coming in to score. Karl Blum got back on track with a scoreless 9th to end it, 11-1.

Decisive stat: 12 hits for Rutgers, five for LaSalle. Both teams issued a few free passes, but Rutgers capitalized by keeping runners moving along the basepaths on the strength of so many hits paced by four from Matera, two from Bowerbank, and a fourth consecutive multi-hit game from Chris Folinusz.

Notable: Matera nearly recorded a cycle as he went 4-4 including the homer, two doubles, 3 runs scored, and the 4 RBI. Dan DiGeorgio had a triple, two RBI, and a run scored. Jawuan Harris and Mike Nyisztor each scored twice. Collin Kiernan, Tommy Genuario, and Karl Blum each pitched an inning of relief.

Opponent notables: Jack Cucinotta had a double, two walks, and a stolen base. Ben Faso had two hits and the Explorers’ lone RBI.

Next up

Rutgers is now 16-10 on the season. Saturday the same two teams do it again at 1pm, stop by Bainton Field if you can. Probable starters - RU (Harry Rutkowski), LaSalle (TBA).

The series concludes Sunday at 1 pm. Probable starters - RU (TBA), LaSalle (Colin Kennedy).