Rutgers baseball welcomed first place and 13th ranked Michigan to Bainton Field for a series crucial to the Scarlet Knights postseason hopes.
Friday: Rutgers 15, Michigan 9
John O’Reilly got the start and was rudely greeted by the Wolverines three runs in the top of the first. The Scarlet Knights wasted no time in answering to tie the game in the bottom half. After that it was a see saw battle with Michigan going up 4-3 in the third, but Rutgers responding to take a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the frame on Chris Folinusz’s second RBI hit of the game. Michigan tied it with a run in the 5th, but Rutgers regained a one run advantage in the bottom of the 5th. Rutgers tacked one on in the 6th but Michigan replied with a two spot in the top of the 7th to tie the game, 7-7.
Then The Scarlet Knights exploded in the bottom of the inning with a little help from the Michigan pitching staff. Dan DiGeorgio and Chris Folinusz had RBI hits during the rally, but Rutgers batters drew four! bases loaded walks to keep the merry go round going. When the dust settled after Luke Bowerbank’s RBI groundout, the Knights held a 15-7 advantage heading to the 8th. Michigan added two in the ninth, but Rutgers held on for the 15-9 victory.
Decisive stat: 15 runs marks the most Rutgers has scored in a Big Ten conference game since they joined the league.
Notable: Folinusz went 4-5, with 5 RBI and a run scored. Jawuan Harris went 2-3 with two doubles, two RBI and four runs scored. O’Reilly battled through six and a third innings. Tommy Genuario got the win in relief and is now 4-0 this season.
Opponent notables: First baseman Jesse Franklin went 4-4 with 2 RBI from the cleanup spot. DH Dominic Clementi went 3-3 with a triple, 3 runs, 3 RBI, and 2 walks.
Saturday: Michigan 9, Rutgers 4
Michigan got revenge despite Rutgers taking a 2-0 lead in the second inning. The Wolverines responded immediately with three in the 3rd, but Rutgers answered to tie the game in the bottom half on an RBI single by Dan DiGeorgio.
Michigan cranked up with pressure with two in the fifth and four in the sixth. There would be no monster comeback for Rutgers in this one, and they fell by a score of 9-4.
Decisive stat: Michigan’s 3-4-5 hitters combined to go 7-12 with five runs scored, seven RBI, a double, a triple, and two walks.
Notable: Starter Harry Rutkowski went 4.2 innings, allowing only six hits, but five earned runs. Folinusz singled in Rutgers 1st run, the big guy goes through hot stretches like this.
Opponent notables: Miles Lewis did not start the game but came in to play left field. He ended up going 1-4 in the leadoff spot, but that one was a home run. Starter Ben Dragani went 6.2 innings striking out seven and only allowing three earned runs.
The series concludes Sunday at Bainton Field with first pitch at high noon. Be there or be square. Rutgers remains in 9th place in the Big Ten, one game back of Michigan State for the final qualifying spot in the Big Ten tournament.