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Rutgers Baseball season ends at B1G Champion Indiana

Knights swept to close out the year.

Acosta is 2nd all-time in single-season appearances on the mound.
Rutgers Athletics

Rutgers Baseball completed their season at Indiana this weekend. Heading into the three game set, the Scarlet Knights controlled their own destiny, sitting in the final qualifying spot for a Big Ten tournament berth. As it turned out, RU would have needed to sweep the series to qualify because Ohio State and Maryland did just that in theirs to sew up the 7th and 8th spots. Instead, the opposite happened to finish off another season of Scarlet Knights baseball.

Thursday: Indiana 7, Rutgers 5

Rutgers starter Harry Rutkowski surrendered an RBI double to put the Knights in a 2-0 hole in the second inning. The Scarlet Knights turned a two run deficit to a two run advantage in the 5th inning after an RBI single from Kevin Blum then a three-run homer from Kevin Welsh (1st career). Indiana rallied to tie it in the bottom half, but Rutgers again showed fight with an RBI single from Luke Bowerbank to regain a 5-4 lead in the 6th. Indiana again showed their mettle with a three-run bottom of the 6th and that’s how it stayed the rest of the way. Rutgers unable to get anyone on base the in the final three frames.

Friday: Indiana 11, Rutgers 4

Tevin Murray was roughed up for the first time in over two months, surrendering six earned runs in just 2.1 innings pitched. Rutgers briefly tied the game with two runs in the top of the 3rd on a homer by Welsh, but didn’t get their other two runs until the 8th (Bowerbank homer) when the outcome was no longer in doubt. Indiana victimized Steven Acosta and Eric Reardon to the tune of an 11-2 lead after six innings. RU was outhit 12-4 for the game.

Saturday: Indiana 13, Rutgers 3

With the other results in, Rutgers had been eliminated prior to this game being played. That said, the squad went with most of their regulars and Kevin Welsh knocked in Mike Nyisztor to give the Knights a 1-0 advantage in the top of the first. Tommy Genuario was solid on the hill until the wheels fell off in the 4th inning. Even relief from Serafino Brito was not enough to stop a six run frame.

Rutgers answered with yet another homer by Welsh in the 5th, his third straight day with a long ball, amazing considering he had yet to hit one at the college level prior. With the deficit at 6-3, Brito surrendered a 2 run bomb in the bottom half to re-stake IU to a five run lead. More insurance runs followed and the season ended on a down note.

None of the seniors really had days they’d like to have ended their careers on. Carmen Sclafani was 0-4 with three strikeouts, dropping his season average to .216 (he hit .287 last year). Luke Bowerbank had a strong series, but was just 1-4 on the day. Tyler McNamara was 1-3 with a walk, but struck out twice. Brito went 1.1 IP allowing two runs.

Series Takeaway(s): 1. Indiana was just the better team and earned the outright league title. Every time RU had any momentum they answered back. One key was that every time they faced a pitcher for a second time through the order, the Hoosiers were able to do a ton of damage. 2. Rutgers hitters started to sputter late in the year, but it was the pitchers who really ran out of gas. With only three starters and two relievers who could be relied upon, they all seemed a little worn out in this final series. 3. Despite being rocked in this series, Tevin Murray still managed to finish Big Ten play with a 1.75 ERA in 46.1 conference innings. Both Tevin and Tommy Genuario’s improvement allowed Rutgers to win some conference games and stay competitive all year.

B1G League Chew: Steven Acosta has pitched in 17-of-23 Big Ten games this year and is second in the program record books with 30 appearances in a single season. Had he pitched in the finale, he would have tied the school record with 31.

Next up: Summer ball! Expect more season wrap-up coverage in the coming weeks.

Good luck to the outgoing seniors. Luke Bowerbank had a nice series overall to end his career, including his second career homer.