Fordham upsets RU in eighth inning
Rutgers head baseball coach Fred Hill was clear it would be a disappointment if the Scarlet Knights dropped midweek games to less talented opponents.
Disappointment is an understatement, thanks to a four-run eighth inning by Fordham (12-20) yesterday to defeat Rutgers (14-15, 6-3), 15-14.
“Both teams played pretty hard, but there’s not much we can do,” said freshman third baseman Matt Tietz, who hit 3-for-4 in the loss. “Kudos to both teams, but it was a tough loss.”
Hill and the rest of the team were unavailable for comment.
Up 14-11 in the bottom of the eighth, freshman Howie Brey came in to relieve senior lefthander Nathaniel Roe after Roe plunked catcher Ryan Phelan and then walked shortstop Joseph DeVito to give the Rams first and second with no outs.
Brey, who pitched well in his last outing against Seton Hall this weekend, proceeded to give up an RBI single to Fordham’s leadoff hitter, centerfielder Tim Swatek. Devito then reached home on a flyout by first baseman Mike Mauri, and Swatek and second baseman Joseph Runco scored on a wild pitch and balk, respectively, to give Fordham the 15-14 advantage.
The amount of Rutgers runs despite the loss was something Tietz did not expect.
“It’s a little frustrating,” Tietz said. “The pitchers were a little off today, but sometimes our hitters are a little off too, so there is no one to really blame. We just have to execute a little more and figure it out.”
The Knights held the 14-11 lead in the top of the eighth thanks to sophomore outfielder Vinny Zarrillo, who scored on a double play groundball from senior designated hitter Charlie Law to make it a 14-11 lead.
The back and fourth game was prevalent throughout the whole game, as junior starting righthander Slater McCue struggled.
McCue lasted just an inning and a third after he allowed five earned runs on three hits with three walks.
McCue’s problems began with his first batter, as he walked Swatek to start off the bottom of the first. McCue then gave up a single before Mauri drove in the first run of the game with an RBI single up the middle. Two more runs crossed the plate before McCue got third baseman Ian Edmiston to ground out to Tietz to end the inning.
Fordham increased its lead, 6-0, before Rutgers scored. Redshirt freshman shortstop John Jennings scored on a balk by Rams starting pitcher J.C. Porter for Rutgers’ first run of the game. The Knights tied the game in the top of the fifth, but the Rams came back in the bottom of the inning with four runs, including a Mauri two-run single to right field that brought in Swatek and DeVito for a 10-6 lead.
The offense did its job for Rutgers, but the bullpen was unable to stop the run production McCue allowed to Fordham.
Senior righthander Pat O’Leary replaced McCue and lasted three innings before he came out for freshman righthander Reed Shuttle. While O’Leary gave up just two runs in his three innings of work, Shuttle allowed the same amount without recording a single out.
For Rutgers, a defeat to a team who lost 12 of its previous 13 games before the midweek upset of the Knights will do nothing but allow Hill to make more decisions regarding who can go for him as his No. 4 starter.
A possibility for Hill could be senior lefthander Rob Corsi, who is pitching effectively out of the bullpen for Hill.
In his last appearance against Seton Hall this weekend, Corsi relieved senior righthander Tyler Gebler for three and a third innings — he allowed just one earned run on three hits.
Whatever Hill’s decision is the sting of losing to a losing team will stay until Rutgers’ next game Friday against Cincinnati.
“We can’t take anyone lightly,” Tietz said. “Midweek games are important, so we just have to stop making mistakes.”
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