Knights clinch series win against Huskies
Thanks to timely hitting and solid pitching performances, the Rutgers baseball team was able to avoid a home series loss to Connecticut yesterday with a 3-2 come-from-behind victory.
Senior lefthander Rob Corsi allowed just two runs in his second start of the season, and senior righthander Tyler Gebler delivered three innings of relief for the Scarlet Knights (22-25, 10-8) to secure the win and their first series victory against a Big East opponent since they played Cincinnati on April 14.
“It’s huge,“ Corsi (3-3) said of the series win. “We’ve been stumbling a little bit lately. This is great as a confidence booster, especially in a game like that where you come from behind and piece something together. It lets you know that when you’re down, you’re not out if you keep clawing back. We showed a lot of heart today.”
Despite its pitching performances, Rutgers struggled offensively against UConn righthander Jordan Tabakman.
The Knights had just two hits on Tabakman until the bottom of the sixth, when they crossed three runs across the plate.
Senior catcher Jeff Melillo reached first on a base hit and advanced to second on a pass ball. A base hit by senior right fielder Steve Zavala moved Melillo over to third for senior first baseman Charlie Law, who drove Melillo in on a sacrifice fly to give the Knights their first run of the game.
After Huskies head coach Jim Penders signaled for reliever Dan Freehan, Rutgers responded with a bases-loaded RBI single by redshirt freshman John Jennings to even the score. A sacrifice fly to centerfield by freshman third baseman Matt Tietz gave Rutgers the lead.
The Knights had the bases loaded in the previous inning as well, but sophomore leftfielder Vinny Zarrillo grounded out to third to end the inning.
The inning did not matter though, in large part because of Jennings.
“It was really important,“ Jennings said. “You never want to let them get comfortable with a lead. We never gave up and had a lot of energy on the field and in the dugout and we had good at bats.”
Those at bats were not evident in the early stages as Rutgers fell in a 2-0 hole.
UConn third baseman Bryan Daniello grounded out to second base in the second inning which scored rightfielder Stanly Paul. Second baseman LJ Mazzilli drove in shortstop Tom Verdi in the first inning for the early UConn lead.
But Rutgers was able to rebound and did so at the right time after struggling offensively in the past week.
The win kept Rutgers in the top half of the conference standings, separating itself from the Huskies as the Knights beat them Saturday, 9-4 after Friday’ 3-1 loss.
The Knights currently sit in fifth place with six games remaining in conference play.
“We played a good series and we want to get at least two out of three next week and then it doesn’t make any difference, and I think we will be in good shape when we play South Florida,” Hill said. “We’ll play South Florida tough too.”
For updates on the Rutgers baseball team, follow Bradly Derechailo on Twitter @Bradly_D. For general Rutgers sports updates follow @TargumSports.