Sophomore reliever delivers in back-and-forth road win
Back-and-forth contests have been a constant for the Rutgers baseball team during its midweek games.
While yesterday’s game against Lafayette (6-31) was no different, the Scarlet Knights (17-16, 8-4) were able to escape Easton, Pa., with a 14-8 win against the Leopards.
While Lafayette managed to plate runs in three of its first five innings, sophomore righthander Jon Young prevented any runs after that.
“He pitched great,” said sophomore outfielder Vinny Zarrillo, who went 3-for-5 yesterday with one RBI. “It was a great job by him to step up like that.”
Young entered the game in the fifth inning after senior righthander Nathaniel Roe allowed a two-run homerun to Lafayette right fielder Matt Lawrence. Young then retired shortstop Jackson Kramer on a fly out before center fielder Andrew Santomauro was thrown out at second when he tried to stretch his two-out single.
The single to Santomauro was the only hit Young allowed in his four and two-thirds innings of work. Young struck out four runners and allowed no runs in his first win of the season.
Young (1-0), who said both his fastball and slider were working for him on the mound, was also pleased with his performance.
“I felt good,” Young said. “I was just trying to keep the ball low and throw strikes to get their hitters out.”
Freshman righthander Reed Shuttle, who made the first start for a rookie under head coach Fred Hill since 2010, struggled in his starting debut.
Shuttle lasted two and a third before Hill made the switch to Roe, as Shuttle allowed four runs on five hits and two walks.
But unlike Rutgers’ last midweek game against Fordham, where the Knights bullpen could not deliver, the Leopards were unable to solve Young.
It also helped that their offense produced double-digit runs and hits.
“I was pleased to see the team jump out and score runs early and then continue to do that as the game went on,” Hill said.
Rutgers’ highest-scoring performance was in the top of the sixth, when five Knights crossed home plate.
With the bases loaded and one out, senior designated hitter Charlie Law hit a sacrifice fly to right field to bring in Zarrillo. Four more runners scored before Lafayette reliever Robert Tatum retired senior catcher Jeff Melillo on a groundout to third.
Rutgers needed all the offense it could get in the beginning innings to combat Lafayette’s early hitting.
The Leopards posted four runs in the bottom of the third inning, when Kramer’s RBI single to centerfield drove in first baseman Campbell Lipe to make it a 6-5 game.
It completed the early portion of the game that resembled the Knights’ performance last week against the Rams.
But Rutgers produced 15 hits in its first midweek victory since April 3 against Iona.
“It seems like we have been struggling a little bit with midweeks,” Zarrillo said. “But I thought our pitching did better today, and we executed with the bats again, which we have been doing in the past couple of games.”
Rutgers plays again today against Monmouth at Bainton Field, and a victory will secure a winning record for the Knights when they travel to Pittsburgh this weekend for a three-game series.
“We feel we should win each midweek game, so every game’s a big game and we don’t take anyone lightly,” Zarrillo said. “This win was big for us, and hopefully we get another one [today].”
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