Rutgers Baseball resumed Big Ten play against the Purdue Boilermakers after sweeping Michigan State.
Rutgers starter Harry Rutkowski pitched a gem and Rutgers moved enough runners along to plate both runs on RBI groundouts.
Saturday: Purdue 6, Rutgers 2
Tommy Genuario got another start for the Scarlet Knights and pitched well yet again. The game remained scoreless until the 7th inning, though Purdue had a lot more baserunners than Rutgers up until that point.
In the 7th, Genuario walked the leadoff man, then made an error while fielding a bunt. Purdue bunted again and a second straight throwing error, this one by Carmen Sclafani. When the merry-go-round came to a stop, two runs were in with the previous batter at third and still nobody out.
Tommy was at only 80 pitches but Coach Litterio opted to replace his starter with Garrett French. French buckled down to strike out the next two hitters. Then French induced a groundout to strand the runner at third base and keep the manageable two-run deficit.
Rutgers sliced the deficit in half when Kevin Blum scored on a wild pitch. The same play also got Mike Nyisztor to third base with only one out. Unfortunately for the Knights, Tyler McNamara and Sclafani struck out to end the threat.
Purdue wasted no time putting the game out of reach, mostly by just being patient at the dish. French, Steven Acosta, and Eric Reardon combined to walk five batters before a two-run single made it 6-1. The Boilermakers tried to steal another run, but McNamara now in at catcher teamed with David Soto and Chris Brito to execute a nice play and cut down the trail runner.
Rutgers got one back in the 9th when Victor Valderrama caused some havoc on the basepaths and scored on a groundout from Alex Russo. Oddly enough, it was Purdue closer Bo Hofstra who recorded the final eight outs for the Boilermakers.
Decisive stat: Five walks in seven batters. Scarlet hurlers just couldn’t find the zone in the 9th and Purdue capitalized with the four insurance runs on just one base hit.
Notable: Nyisztor had two of the Knights’ only five hits and added a stolen base. RU was 0-9 with runners in scoring position.
Pump it up! Sclafani delivers a two-out RBI hit to score McNamara.— Rutgers Baseball (@RutgersBaseball) April 21, 2019
B1 | Rutgers 3, Purdue 0 pic.twitter.com/5zYl2ZDj4L
Sunday: Rutgers 6, Purdue 1
On Easter Sunday, Rutgers must not have overdosed on as much chocolate as Purdue before the game. The Knights put up three runs in the bottom of the first including a double by Mike Nyisztor, single by Kevin Welsh, Chris Brito walk, Tyler McNamara hit by pitch, Victor Valderrama groundout, and Carmen Sclafani single. It proved to be the difference.
Rutgers added insurance runs on three more hits from Tyler McNamara, David Soto, and Victor Valderrama, but those were not needed because Tevin Murray continued his run of dominance in Big Ten play with six shutout innings, scattering seven hits, allowing just one walk, and striking out five. Murray won his third consecutive start after being winless in his first 34 collegiate appearances. Serafino Brito went the last three innings for his 8th save.
SERIES WIN! Scarlet Knights beat Purdue in the rubber game, 6-1, to improve to 7-5 in the Big Ten. Murray pitches six scoreless innings & Brito closes it out. pic.twitter.com/yFHTlDstVB— Rutgers Baseball (@RutgersBaseball) April 21, 2019
Decisive stat: Murray stranded eight runners.
Notable: Nyisztor, McNamara, and Valderrama each had two hits, including double for each. The top six in the RU lineup each scored a run.
Series Takeaway(s): 1. Rutgers won back to back Big Ten series after some had given them up for dead. It’s a testament to the freshman maturing and some solid coaching. 2. The starting rotation has been excellent since Genuario went into the second spot and Murray on Sundays. The team finally scoring enough for Rutkowski has also been critical. 3. Again in all three games in the series productive outs proved the difference. Rutgers got the job done in game one and Purdue in game two. Litterio harped on it early in the season and it continues to prove true. Strikeouts with runners on, particularly in scoring position lose Big Ten games.
B1G League Chew: Rutgers is 9-4 home at Bainton Field this season.
Next up: Tuesday at Columbia. Wednesday hosting Iona at 3 pm. Weekend series at Michigan April 26-28.