Pitching woes cost Rutgers in series finale
On Friday, the Rutgers baseball team had to stage a comeback in the bottom of the ninth and won the series opener at Bainton Field against Hartford off the bat of senior Lou Clemente, who hit in runners on second and third to win, 4-3, in walk-off fashion.
Then Saturday the Scarlet Knights faced one of the top pitchers in the country — lefthander Sean Newcomb, projected as a top-15 draft pick — and got the better of him to win, 4-1, in front of nearly 50 MLB scouts behind a strong outing from freshman righthander Gaby Rosa.
Yesterday, the Hawks provided another challenging game for Rutgers in the series finale.
In a game that took three hours and 31 minutes, it was an offensive gauntlet for both teams that eventually favored Hartford, which took Game 3, 11-8.
In the last three innings, the Hawks (18-13) managed to score eight runs off 11 hits against three different Knights pitchers.
Rutgers (14-18) attempted to match the production from Hartford — playing down all game and never owning a lead — but came up short, scoring five runs in the last three innings.
The result left head coach Joe Litterio not with a feeling of anger, but rather dissatisfaction.
“It’s disappointing just as a whole today. We came out the last two games and just played good, solid baseball, and today was sloppy,” he said. “We kicked the ball, we couldn’t throw strikes and that puts pressure on the offense. But the offense is used to that. There is no excuse there. We came out and thought we were going to win today.”
The pitching might have missed the mark and allowed too many hits — the last eight runs were all earned after 12 hits — but the staff was not supported.
Offensively, 14 runners were left on base.
Defensively, the Knights fumbled the ball and threw it away for three errors. A handful of other batted balls were mishandled, or the fielder was unable to convert on the play.
Everything seemed to go wrong, Literrio said.
“Pitching, defense — we didn’t do anything well today. We scored a bunch of runs, but I expect that from these guys,” Litterio said. “I expect more from them on the mound and a lot more from them on defense. I just think our whole focus wasn’t there and we showed that.”
While the eventual result was not expected, and the offense had a mixed day at the plate, a few Knights did break through.
Senior infielders Nick Favatella and Pat Sweeney each came up in their own way, too.
Favatella reached base four times and stole two bases, while Sweeney contributed three RBI. When the team is down by more than a few runs, the mentality is simple at the plate, Sweeney said.
“You have to keep chipping away. When you are down five runs or whatever it was, there is nothing else you can really do,” Sweeney said. “[You have to] keep on trying to get base hits and keep trying to get runners on base and see what happens.”
Freshman outfielder Tom Marcinczyk reached base three times and crossed the plate each time. Marcinczyk tripled twice in the game to put pressure on the opposing team.
But it would end up not being enough for the Knights.
“I was feeling good at the plate. I was pretty much trying to get myself in scoring position and trying to get us back in this game,” Marcinczyk said. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t get it done today. But that’s baseball.”
For updates on the Rutgers baseball team, follow Tyler Karalewich on Twitter @TylerKaralewich. For general Rutgers sports updates, follow @TargumSports.