Rutgers extends nation's second-longest win streak to 15
The Rutgers baseball team extended the second-longest active home win streak in the nation on Tuesday when it faced the New Jersey Institute of Technology at Bainton Field.
Despite being outhit, 10-8, the Scarlet Knights stepped up when they needed to. They eventually went on to take the matchup in a 5-3 decision.
Rutgers carried momentum after coming off of its first series victory of the season and first Big Ten wins against Purdue this past weekend.
But the game almost took a turn for the worse in the top of the sixth inning.
Sophomore right-hander Kevin Baxter was well into his longest outing of the season and had succeeded going into the inning. Baxter scattered five hits in his first five frames of work, showing the poise to get out of tight jams.
When the sixth inning started, Baxter loaded the bases after two singles to the left side and a misplayed bunt on poor rotation from junior second baseman Chris Suseck. Baxter went on to spin a double play ball, but immediately followed it up by surrendering a two-out single for the Highlanders' second run of the inning.
Head coach Joe Litterio decided Baxter had done enough and inserted sophomore right-hander Colin Bohnert into the game. Bohnert ended the inning on his second pitch with a fly out to right fielder Tom Marcincyzk.
When it was all said and done, Baxter had finished five and two-third innings allowing nine hits and three earned runs. Bohnert stranded the inherited runner and sophomore right-hander Kyle Driscoll earned his first save on the season.
While he admitted it wasn't his best outing, Baxter was excited to have earned his first win of the season. When it the sixth inning rolled around, Baxter acknowledged feeling fatigued.
“I’m not really a strikeout pitcher. I don’t really have an out pitch, so I was trying to keep the ball going to my infielders and outfielders. They always make the plays,” Baxter said. “I guess I was getting a little tired (in the sixth inning) because I was leaving balls down the middle. It’s been a while since I’ve thrown that many innings. I’m happy I got the win. That's all that matters.”
Litterio said he was proud of the outings from his young arms. The midweek games are usually times where the Knights and Litterio gauge the performances of the underclassmen.
“They came out and held the game down,” Litterio said. “Kevin got a little tired in that sixth inning — that’s probably my fault. It was the first time he’s gone six innings, so I probably should have gotten him out of there in the fifth, but that’s easy to say now looking back at it.”
While Rutgers was limited to fewer hits than NJIT, the scarlet squad made the most of its at-bats by converting in the clutch.
That's where Marcincyzk came up huge for the Knights.
With no outs in the bottom of the first, the sophomore came to the plate with runners in scoring position at second and third. Marcincyzk worked NJIT’s Johnny Malatesta to a full count, before seeing a change-up that he liked and stroked the ball through the left side.
The single plated two runs, the same as the margin of victory for Rutgers. Marcinczyk also added a third RBI on a sac fly in third inning.
“I was trying to get into a batters count,” Marcincyzk said. “I got to a 3-2 count, and he threw me a changeup and I was able to drive it the opposite way. It was a real good feeling my two at-bats made a difference, but definitely everyone on the team is contributing. In every single way — pitching and hitting. But everyone was hitting it hard today, but just right at them. But it happens, I’m just happy we got the win.”
For updates on the Rutgers baseball team, follow @TylerKaralewich and @TargumSports on Twitter.