In his long awaited return to the rotation, sophomore right-hander Gaby Rosa's outing went as well as it possibly could have. After the experimental role as an everyday fielder, Rosa did not disappoint.
It would have gone better, but Ohio State left-hander Ryan Riga stood in the way for the Rutgers baseball team and Rosa. Throwing 29 straight scoreless innings — a new Buckeyes record — Riga earned his fifth win on the season in a 1-0 shutout Sunday against the Scarlet Knights (8-16, 3-3).
The loss comes after Rutgers' 16-game home winning streak was snapped by the Buckeyes in the first game of the series with a 13-4 defeat on Friday.
Rosa's line impressed, but didn’t quite match the performance Riga posted. The Ohio State senior went the distance, scattering six hits — three of them coming in the ninth inning — while also striking out five and facing just three above the minimum of 27 possible batters.
Rosa only allowed two hits over seven innings with one earned run.
Although he ended up the losing pitcher, Rosa's effectiveness was impossible to ignore. Rosa said he used a new pitch he has worked on since last season and supplemented it with what always worked for him — his fastball and changeup.
“I feel good now that I’ve been put back into the rotation,” Rosa said. “I developed a new pitch now. I have a slider and it’s been helping a lot. I have been getting first pitch strikes with it, and it has helped keep batters off-balance. I was able to use all three pitches. I started a lot of lefties with a slider and came right back with a fastball to shake them. I mixed in a few changeups in there, too.”
Head coach Joe Litterio was at the top the list of those impressed with Rosa’s first start at Bainton Field in a year. After a win last weekend against Purdue, Litterio permanently shifted Rosa from an everyday infielder back into the starting rotation.
So far, the switch back has been effective. In his first two starts, Rosa has thrown 13 innings, allowing just two earned runs on five hits.
“(Rosa) pitched fantastic,” senior first baseman Joe D’Annunzio said postgame. “He got an unlucky break with a 3-2 pitch that turned into a ground ball right up the middle that got out to the wall and that scored the run. He just got unlucky, he pitched his butt off and there’s nothing else you can do. That performance was all we could ask from him to give us a shot to win.”
Although Riga proved dominant over the first eight innings of play, the bottom of the ninth inning provided a scare.
Freshman third baseman Milo Freeman began the last half inning with a single to the right side. After a substitution with pinch-running specialist TJ Perkowski, D’Annunzio attempted a sacrifice bunt.
D’Annunzio successfully reached first base when the Knights attempted to bunt and run, but Perkowski did not share the same fate.
Perkowski rounded second base too aggressively and Ohio State catcher Aaron Gretz threw in behind him to cut the pinch-runner down for the first out.
With one out, the rally continued.
After D’Annunzio stole second, sophomore right fielder Tom Marcincyzk singled to right field. D’Annunzio rounded third and headed for home on the throw.
A rope from right fielder Pat Porter met D’Annunzio at home and the second out of the inning stopped the tying run from crossing the plate. A fly out from senior left fielder Vinny Zarrillo ended the game and Rutgers' chances of a successful rally.
“Our mind set going into the inning was get ‘em on, get ‘em over and get ‘em in,” D’Annunzio said. “When you are down one run, you are just trying to get the first runner on, move him over and hopefully get a base hit to score him. Unfortunately, the kid made a perfect throw at the plate to get me — which is baseball. It’s tough. We want to win that game.”
For updates on the Rutgers baseball team, follow @TylerKaralewich and @TargumSports on Twitter.