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Rutgers Baseball defeats Wagner in home opener, 15-3

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Coach Owens gets his first home victory, team moves to 4-3 on the year.

Rutgers started the 2020 home season off right with a victory.
Rutgers Athletics

The Rutgers Baseball team got a home game in Tuesday on BTN+. Yes in February. Yes it was cold, but more so wet.

Tuesday: Rutgers 15, Wagner 3

Scarlet Knight starter Jack Parkinson was sharp early, retiring the side in the top of the first inning on three ground balls. Wagner was not so lucky in the bottom half behind freshman starter Nick DeCarlo (Jackson, NJ). With one out, the next three Rutgers hitters reached base without even making contact as two were hit by pitches and a third walked. DeCarlo struck out Big Ten home run leader Chris Brito for the second out, but walked Tim Dezzi on a full count to force in a run. Kevin Welsh delivered a monster triple on a full count himself to clear the bases and push RU to an early 4-0 lead.

Parkinson was perfect again in the second, but ran into trouble in the 3rd inning. A single, double, and RBI groundout cut the lead in half. A two-out triple scored a third run, but Parkinson bore down to induce a pop-up and preserve a 4-3 lead for Rutgers. Rutgers left two on base in the 3rd and 4th but failed to score.

Matt Ciccone entered the game on the mound for RU in the 4th; three up, three down. Ciccone ran into trouble in the 5th though, but luckily Jared Bellissimo (who earned the win) came out of the bullpen to strikeout the number three and four hitters and strand the bases loaded.

Rutgers seized the momentum in the bottom of the inning. After singles by Peter Serruto and Victor Valderrama, Dan DiGeorgio avoided a golden sombrero in a big way by driving in both runners with a double. It was great to see him on his home field after missing all of 2019.

RU led 6-3, and Wagner again left two men on base in the 6th after Parker Scott relieved Bellissimo to keep the Seahawks off the board. Rutgers parlayed the momentum into another two runs, the big hit coming off the bat of Richie Schiekofer. Richie doubled and later scored on a Brito bomb that was a foot short of a home run, but enough for a sacrifice fly and 8-3 advantage.

After a 1-2-3 inning by Scott in the top of the inning, Rutgers again got the bats going after the 7th inning stretch. Sam Owens and Mike Nyisztor had base hits as part of a two run inning that propelled RU to a 10-3 lead. A Kevin Welsh hard grounder to short was not fielded cleanly resulting in two more runs, 12-3.

Lack of daylight was starting to become a factor as the 8th inning began at 5:03 pm EST. Kyle Muller came out of the bullpen and despite a rocky stretch exited the inning unscathed. It was quick enough that the umpires elected to allow Rutgers to bat in the bottom of the 8th inning. Schiekofer unloaded a three run jack with two away in the bottom of the inning that would have still been out the park even under the old dimensions. It was his first career college home run.

In near total darkness, Steven Acosta retired the side to end the game and cement the victory.

Decisive stat(s): Eleven walks, four hit batsmen by Seahawk pitchers. Rutgers didn’t exactly knock Wagner’s socks off in the base hit department (10-8), but all the free baserunners were just too much for the visitors to overcome.

Notable: Nyisztor (hitting 3rd) scored three and Schiekofer (batting clean up) scored four runs. Rutgers did not commit an error despite the slick conditions.

B1G League Chew: Eight different players accounted for Rutgers’s ten hits. This is the type of balance the Scarlet Knights need to stay competitive as the season progresses. Muller, Ciccone, Bellissimo, and Scott each have sub-4.00 ERAs thus far out of the bullpen.

Next up: A three game weekend series Feb 28, Feb 29, and Mar 1 in Peoria, Arizona against Washington State. Temperatures are expected in the 70s.

Then a week from today, March 3, Rutgers plays at St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia at 2:30 pm. The following day, the second scheduled home game on Wednesday, March 4 at 2 pm is against St. Peter’s at Bainton Field.

Statistical Review (through 7 games)

Batting leaders (min. 2 PA/G and 75% of games played)

BA: Brito (.458), Serruto (.450), DiGeorgio (.345)

Hits: Brito (11), DiGeorgio (10), Serruto (9)

HR: Brito (3), Serruto (2), Schiekofer (1)

RBI: Nyisztor & Brito (9), Schiekofer (8)

Runs scored: Schiekofer (10), Nyisztor (8), DiGeorgio, Serruto, & Sam Owens (7)

Stolen bases: Schiekofer & Nyisztor (2), DiGeorgio (1)

Pitching leaders

W: Rutkowski, Genuario, Murray, Bellissimo (1)

SV: Scott (1)

ERA: Muller (0.00, 5.1 IP), Bellissimo (2.25, 4.0 IP), Rutkowski (3.00, 12 IP)

SO: Murray (8), Rutkowski (7), Genuario (7)

IP: Rutkowski (12.0), Genuario (10.0), Scott (8.1)