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Rutgers baseball takes rubber game, wins 6th straight series

Team rebounds from goose egg Saturday with huge rally Sunday.

West Virginia v Rutgers

Rutgers won the opener in a big way, but was shutout Saturday 1-0 after a 9th inning run by LaSalle. As a result, the Scarlet Knights needed to win Sunday for their 6th consecutive series victory. After a slow start, one big rally was enough to get a happy recap.

Friday: Rutgers 11, LaSalle 1

Matera stars at the plate to back O’Reilly.

Saturday: LaSalle 1, Rutgers 0.

This game was a pitcher’s duel in the truest sense. Harry Rutkowski was the tough luck loser pitching into the 9th inning before being relieved by Serafino Brito. Brito allowed an inherited run to score and the team couldn’t pick him up as all three Rutgers batters in the bottom of the 9th struck out looking.

Decisive stat: One hit. Rutgers managed just a single single by Tyler McNamara compared to six base hits by LaSalle. Hats off to Jackson Ray (6.1 IP) who was not announced as the Explorers’ starter until Saturday morning. Ray and Matt Holt (2.2 IP) combined on the shutout.

Notable: Rutkowski pitched a career high 8.1 innings, allowing five hits, two walks, and striking out four. Dan DiGeorgio stole two bases. LaSalle pitchers were careful with Nick Matera, walking him twice after Jawuan Harris was not able to get the job done with a runner at 3rd and less than two outs. Austin Constantini had two hits for LaSalle.

Sunday: Rutgers 11, LaSalle 3.

LaSalle felt confident early in this one as the Rutgers’s (17-11) bats started out asleep at the wheel for the second consecutive game. Eric Reardon got the start in place of usual Sunday starter Eric Heatter who has struggled of late. Reardon allowed a run in the second and another in the fourth. Rutgers got a run back in the bottom of the 4th on a bases loaded groundout by Luke Bowerbank after Jawuan Harris legged out an infield single to move Chris Folinusz to 3rd. I mention Harris because he failed to advance runners twice on Saturday and was scuffling at the plate badly coming into this game.

Then literally minutes in real time after Rutgers lacrosse finished off Michigan, it was if the energy migrated across Piscataway. Reardon came back out for the 5th and pitched a clean inning. In the bottom half, Rutgers offense finally broke through. After the huge nine run inning, Rutgers bullpen allowed just one run to close it out. Kyle Gerace, Karl Blum, and Ryan Wares got the job done.

Decisive stat: 9 runs in one inning. Fresh off a day of rest Saturday, Mike Nyisztor led off the inning with a triple and came around to score on an error, tying the score 2-2. After Matera grounded out, Chris Folinusz singled then Jawuan Harris came through again, this time with a triple making it 3-2 Scarlet Knights. After that Kyle Walker got a free pass and the Knights executed a double steal with Harris scoring and Walker safe at second. Things continued to unravel for LaSalle from there as walks, stolen bases, wild pitches all with two out set up a DiGeorgio single to make it 7-2. Nyisztor got his second hit of the inning to drive in DiGeorgio. Matera wouldn’t be denied twice in an inning, capping the rally with a two-run homer.

Notable: Reardon got his first win of the season, allowing just one earned run in five innings. Folinusz has multiple hits in five of the last six games. He finished 3-5 with a double, RBI, and two runs scored. Kyle Walker stole two bases. Carmen Sclafani and Bowerbank each had two more hits.

Next up

The Scarlet Knights are now 17-11 on the season and 4-2 in Big Ten play.

Lafayette comes to Bainton Field Wednesday for a 3:30 pm first pitch.

Rutgers continues Big Ten play at Illinois Friday at 7 pm.

Look for a midseason recap this week!