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Rutgers Baseball beats Wagner for 2nd straight win

Knights drop first two against Ohio State, win exciting finale, then another one run victory over Wagner.

David Anderson

After a defeat of Stony Brook, Rutgers Baseball played their first Big Ten series of the season by hosting Ohio State. The three games were decided by a total of five runs with two of the contests going multiple extra innings. Rutgers then finished the homestand with Wagner Wednesday.

Friday: Ohio State 5, Rutgers 3 (11 innings)

Rutgers starter Harry Rutkowski was his typical solid self (office of redundancy office), though by allowing two earned runs in 7.0 innings his ERA went up 0.01 to 2.51 for the entire season. The one unearned run came in the first, although the error was committed by Harry himself on a bad pickoff. Rutgers got the run back when Kevin Welsh scored to tie the game on a wild pitch in the bottom half.

Rutkowski finally settled in after allowing two runs in the second and with the help of Steven Acosta hurling 2.1 innings of scoreless relief, kept the Buckeyes off the board for eight consecutive innings.

Rutgers capitalized on an Ohio State miscue when Tim Dezzi singled in Mike Nyisztor to cut the lead in half in the 3rd and then tied the game in the bottom of the 9th. With one out, Nyisztor and Welsh singled. Then instead of Dezzi being up, David Soto who had pinch run earlier in the game was in the 3rd spot of the batting order. Soto hit a grounder to short and the Buckeyes tried to turn a double play that would have ended the game. They converted the out at second, but a throwing error allowed Soto to be safe at first and Nyisztor to come around from second to tie it up, 3-3.

In extras, Serafino Brito stranded inherited runners to keep the score tied in the top of the 10th, but RU went down 1-2-3 in the bottom half and send the game to an 11th inning. After the quick turnaround, Brito could not find his control, walking the first two hitters and then committing an error on a sacrifice bunt attempt. A fielders choice and a double brought two runs home before Serafino whiffed back to back hitters to escape further damage.

Rutgers got the tying run to the plater after a Peter Serruto walk in the bottom of the 11th, but failed to score, resulting in the 5-3 final.

Decisive stat: RU pitchers put up eight straight zeroes and yet the bats could not muster up another run for victory.

Notable: Ohio State had 14 hits, but RU turned three double plays. Kevin Welsh had two hits including a triple.

Saturday Game 1: Ohio State 2, Rutgers 0

After being victimized by a middle infield error, Tommy Genuario in his first career start surrendered a two-run home run to the Buckeyes Brady Cherry. It was all he would allow in seven impressive innings. Genuario’s final line, 7.0 IP, 6 hits, 2 runs, one earned, one walk, two strikeouts.

Unfortunately, Rutgers was blanked by Ohio State starter Seth Lonsway who tossed a complete game, three-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts.

Decisive stat: One. Rutgers only got one man to third base and it came after a Mike Nyisztor double in the 8th where he advanced to third on a wild pitch. Ohio State left runners at third base in each of the last four innings.

Notable: The other Knights hits came from Kevin Welsh and Chris Brito. Relievers Steven Acosta, Eric Reardon, and Serafino Brito each threw two-thirds of an inning of scoreless ball.

Saturday Game 2: Rutgers 3, Ohio State 2 (15 innings)

With inclement weather forecasted for Sunday, a second game was played Saturday afternoon instead. Rutgers was on the board first when Chris Brito singled in Tyler McNamara in the bottom of the second. Ohio State responded immediately on a two run homer from Brady Cherry for the second day in a row, this time off RU starter Tevin Murray. Tim Dezzi singled in Mike Nyisztor to tie the game in the bottom half and it was a lot of zeroes after that.

The majority of innings were uneventful other than the 5th when both teams got runners to scoring position with less than two outs but failed to score. For Ohio State, Will Pfenning gave a Herculean effort with seven innings of scoreless relief. For Rutgers, Murray went six innings before the bullpen was incredible. Carmen Sclafani, not known for his defense made an amazing diving stop and throw to end the 14th that saved a run.

Finally in the bottom of the 15th inning, Rutgers was on the right side of a miscue when a seemingly innocent grounder to short by Kevin Welsh was mishandled by the first baseman on the catch. Tim Dezzi acting as team player, was able to get the bunt down to move Welsh to second. On the 436th pitch of the game, an 0-2 delivery, Tyler McNamara produced his fourth hit of the game into left field to bring in Welsh for the walk-off victory.

Decisive stat: Nine innings of scoreless relief from Rutgers. The equivalent of a full game was delivered by Garret French (1.1 IP), Eric Reardon (4.2 IP), Parker Scott (1.2 IP), and Steven Acosta (1.1). Acosta pitched in all three games in the two-day, three game series.

Notable: Nyisztor and Chris Brito each had two hits. McNamara had a double among his four hits and added a stolen base. It was the longest game for Rutgers in 16 years.

Series Takeaway(s): 1. Coach Litterio promised me after the USC Upstate series that Rutgers Pitching Coach Phil Cundari would figure it out. In this series alone, they kept the Buckeyes scoreless in 30 of the 35 innings played. 2. Tommy Genuario is so valuable as a swingman who can throw multiple innings, but if he can be a solid number two starter it’s hard to argue with moving him into the rotation. 3. The Scarlet Knights infield defense continues to be an even bigger problem than the bats. After the finale, Rutgers had allowed 28 unearned runs already this year, a huge reason they have lost so many close games.

Wednesday: Rutgers 11, Wagner 10

The Rutgers baseball team hosted the Wagner Seahawks Wednesday. Jared Bellissimo avoided the crooked number, but surrendered single runs in each of the first three innings.

Then all of a sudden the RU bats exploded for three in the third and three more in the fourth. Wagner tied the game with three in the fifth, but Rutgers stayed hot with two more runs to take an 8-6 lead.

The Knights put up three more in the bottom of the 7th to offset a single Wagner tally in the top half. The insurance runs proved crucial as the Seahawks narrowed the deficit to one with a three-spot in the 8th inning. Serafino Brito was pressed into action, avoiding further damage by stranding two runners in scoring position. Serafino pitched a scoreless ninth to nail down the win, his third of the year.

Decisive stat: 7 RBI. Rutgers got seven runs batted in from Carmen Sclafani along with four hits in four at bats and three runs scored. The senior third baseman has been much maligned for his early season struggles, but broke out to power the team to a much needed triumph that also offset his two errors.

Notable: Steven Acosta retired one batter in his 14th appearance of the year. Parker Scott added an inning of scoreless relief. Chris Brito had two hits and scored three times.

B1G League Chew: Rutgers hadn’t won back to back games all season prior to Wednesday’s win.

Next up: A three game weekend of Big Ten play at Iowa. First pitch Friday is at 7 pm. Sunday’s game at 1 pm airs on BTN.

Lou Brown, I could not have said it better ...