Knights swept on road in weekend play
In a bit of foreshadowing, the Rutgers baseball team competed on the field Sunday at Nebraska, a future Big Ten opponent and the host site for the College World Series.
But even with senior righthander Charlie Law producing another effective effort on the mound, the Scarlet Knights (20-22, 8-7) were unable to get past the Cornhuskers (20-23), dropping their lone game, 3-1, to cap one of the team’s worst weekends this season.
“The main thing about this weekend was scoring runs and we really didn’t swing the bats as well as we liked,” said junior second baseman Nick Favatella. “We got some really good pitching performances, and when the team you’re playing scores only three or four runs, you tend to expect to win that game.”
Law (3-5) lasted six innings and allowed three runs before he gave way to freshman reliever Howie Brey. The Cornhuskers managed just eight hits off of the Mainland, N.J., native and none off Brey, but a three-run second inning was all Nebraska needed for the win.
Third baseman Blake Headley doubled into left center to drive in first baseman Kash Kalkowski. Right fielder Austin Darby and catcher Tanner Lubach each collected RBI singles to give Nebraska enough run support.
Rutgers’ lone run came in the top of the fifth inning, when senior first baseman Bill Hoermann singled in senior catcher Jeff Melillo. But the Knights mustered just two more hits after the fifth inning.
The Knights also dropped a game Saturday against Creighton (24-10), 3-2 in extra innings, and another against Oklahoma State (32-11) on Friday, 4-1, as Rutgers combined for only 23 hits and four runs in the three games at the TD Ameritrade Classic in Omaha.
Though the Jays and Cowboys featured winning records and Oklahoma State was ranked 24th in the country, Favatella believes the low run production was not because of a difference in talent level.
“Honestly, I don’t think the talent level was any better,” Favatella said. “I think this is what we have seen the whole year, and at least two of the three teams I think it is safe to say we were better than. I don’t think they were anything special, we just got unlucky with some of our at bats.”
Rutgers had a chance to beat Creighton, as it held a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the ninth. Second baseman Jake Peter singled in third baseman Federico Castagnini to tie the game, and first baseman Reagan Fowler singled down the right field line to drive in centerfielder Brad McKewon for the walk-off victory.
Senior lefthander Rob Smorol went in for Game 1 against Oklahoma State, but allowed four runs in the bottom of the sixth that Rutgers could not overcome with its eight hits and lone run on an RBI single by freshman third baseman Matt Tietz.
“It’s dejecting,” said Smorol of the team’s overall performance. “We really didn’t go out what we wanted to do, and didn’t perform to the best of our abilities.”
Rutgers has two midweek games before a three-game series against Connecticut, a crucial period for its playoff hopes.
It will be up to the offense to respond.
“We just need to play how we can play,” Favatella said. “We have the talent, so it’s just a matter of time for it to come out.”
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