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Rutgers Baseball wins finale at Iowa

It may sound like a broken record, but RU dropped the first two games before a breakout win.

The Big Ten season is well underway.
(Ben Solomon/Rutgers Athletics)

After winning their first back to back games all season, Rutgers Baseball played their first Big Ten road series of the season in Iowa City.

Friday: Iowa 6, Rutgers 1

Rutgers starter Harry Rutkowski cruised through the first five innings, but so did Iowa starter Cole McDonald.

Neither offense did much until the bottom of the 6th. Unfortunately when Iowa’s lineup came up for the 3rd time against Harry with one out, a blitzkrieg ensued: single, walk, double, homer. All of a sudden it was 4-0 and for the first time this season the Scarlet Knights saw their ace getting hit a bit.

Rutgers did get two runners on in the bottom half, but failed to score. Iowa had no such trouble, adding two more runs on just one hit making it 6-0. Chris Brito knocked in Tim Dezzi for the Knights’ lone run in the 8th, but it was just window dressing.

Decisive stat: The four run sixth. Otherwise, RU actually outhit the Hawkeyes 9-7 and total baserunners was dead even at 12 each. One rally won the game.

Notable: The only Rutgers starter to not record a hit was designated hitter Luke Bowerbank. The only player with multiple hits was Mike Nyisztor. Kyle Muller pitched an inning and a third of scoreless relief to finish the game for RU.

Saturday Game 1: Iowa 9, Rutgers 5

Rutgers struck first blood with a fielder’s choice by Tyler McNamara that allowed Tim Dezzi to score in the top of the first. Iowa responded to tie it in the bottom half off Scarlet Knight starter Tommy Genuario making his second career start. The Hawkeyes added a solo shot in the second and another run in the 4th.

Genuario came out for the 6th and could not record an out. Steven Acosta who has been very reliable, was also unable to control the Hawkeyes and for the second consecutive day Iowa had a four run 6th frame to make the score 7-1.

Rutgers immediately responded with one out in the 7th by rallying for four of their own. After a Mike Nyisztor homer, Tim Dezzi walked, Chris Brito singled, and Tyler McNamara walked. With the sacks full, Welsh singled in the first run, then Carmen Sclafani singled in two more to narrow the deficit to 7-5. Unfortunately with two in scoring position, freshman Victor Valderrama could not make a productive out to get the runner in from third. Fellow rookie Peter Serruto grounded out to end the threat.

Iowa tacked on two insurance runs in the bottom half with basketball foe Connor McCaffery in the middle of things and Rutgers never threatened again.

Decisive stat: 12 hits. Each team had a dozen, but Rutgers batters struck out seven times, while Hawkeye hitters only whiffed thrice. Getting the bat on the ball for more productive outs would really go along way for the Knights sputtering offense.

Notable: Kevin Welsh had three hits, while Nyisztor and C. Brito added two each. Dezzi scored twice. Garrett French pitched 1.1 IP of scoreless relief to finish the game.

Saturday Game 2: Rutgers 15, Iowa 3

For the second week in a row with inclement weather forecasted for Sunday, a second game was played Saturday afternoon instead.

Rutgers did what they have done in the late Saturday contests multiple times this year, come out on fire. The Knights exploded for five runs in the first, capped by a Carmen Sclafani three-run dinger. They added one in the second on a Welsh sac fly.

After Iowa cut the lead to 7-2 in the 6th, Rutgers had two more in the 7th and another five spot in the 8th capped by a Chris Brito three run tater to make it a blowout.

Decisive stat: 5 IP, 0 ER. Rutgers starter Tevin Murray has regained his form and earned his first win. He did what no Iowa pitcher in this game could, retire more than one batter without allowing an earned run.

Notable: Closer Serafino Brito pitched 3 scoreless innings to ensure the victory was secured. Dezzi scored three times. Chris Brito had three hits including his homer. Victor Valderrama had two doubles.

Series Takeaway(s): 1. Coach Litterio and Coach Duffy have been unable to get their club to make enough productive outs. When base hits are being strung together (they outhit Iowa for the series 36-26) RU can score, but they need to do a better job moving runners along when making outs. 2. Tommy Genuario and Harry Rutkowski did not have their best games, but along with a revitalized Tevin Murray, Rutgers has some stability in the rotation at the moment. This is key as shrinking what is required of the bullpen, Steven Acosta in particular. 3. The Scarlet Knights freshmen continue to be boom or bust both at the plate and on the mound. The biggest offender is Victor Valderrama who could not get a critical run in from third with less than 2 outs early Saturday, then turned around with two doubles in the second game.

B1G League Chew: Whatever Rutgers (9-19) is doing in between games of a doubleheader, they need to do that before every game. The team is now 3-0 in the second leg of double dips.

Next up: Wednesday at Lafayette at 3 pm. Then a three game weekend series at home against Michigan State. First pitch Friday is at 2 pm.