Freshman’s career day seals series sweep
There was not much the Cincinnati hitters could do Saturday when they played the Rutgers baseball team at Bainton field for the third game of the weekend series.
The Scarlet Knights clinched the series with wins in the first two games and sent redshirt freshman righthander Kyle Driscoll to the mound for a chance to earn the sweep against the Bearcats.
Driscoll was in control for the majority of the game, pitching efficiently and winning his third game of the season in Rutgers’ (18-18, 6-5) 4-1 win against Cincinnati (15-23, 3-12).
When Driscoll left the game following the sixth inning, the Toms River, N.J., native had struck out a career-high 11 batters — a feat he cannot remember duplicating in his life — and allowed only two hits and one earned run.
The pitching combo that worked for Driscoll was getting ahead early with his fastball and then relying on his slider away to righthanders.
“I just tried to work down today and my fastball seemed to be working, so I could get ahead with that,” Driscoll said. “I could also finish with that and I could throw them off with my off-speed in between there and it worked out today.”
The standout performance was something head coach Joe Litterio did not realize after the game.
Driscoll recorded strikeouts for each of the first six outs in the game.
“The two freshmen did a great job today. Max [Herrmann] did a good job of coming in after Kyle had left it. But he had 11 strikeouts, I didn’t know that,” Litterio said surprised. “But, his pitch count was up and that’s why we took him out. He’s the type of pitcher where if he has command, he can have a lot of strikeouts. He did a great job getting ahead and putting hitters away.”
After going 0-for-3 at the plate the day before, senior shortstop Pat Sweeney aimed to rebound and help the Knights earn the sweep.
The Sparta, N.J., native was able to produce offensively, going 2-for-4 with a double, recording an RBI and scoring a run.
“Yesterday, I felt like I missed a lot of pitches,” Sweeney said Saturday after bringing his batting average to .340. “I was just trying to be aggressive today and luckily I got a few pitches to hit and I got some base knocks.”
Before the weekend started, Rutgers sat in seventh place in the AAC, while the Bearcats were not far behind in ninth.
After the sweep, the Knights propelled themselves into third in the conference with a series against AAC-leading Central Florida looming next weekend.
Sweeney said the sweep was vital.
“[To sweep an in-conference game] is huge. Cincinnati was right behind us at the time,” Sweeney said. “Winning three games going into next weekend against the current leader is huge. You have to get that momentum — we have two games this week — so we have to have a good week and bring it into conference play next weekend.”
For updates on the Rutgers baseball team, follow Tyler Karalewich on Twitter @TylerKaralewich. For general Rutgers sports updates, follow @TargumSports.