Rutgers goes 1 for 3 against Old Dominion
It was another weekend on the road for the Rutgers University baseball team, and another slate of tightly contested games.
The Scarlet Knights (4-6) traveled down to Norfolk, Virginia, to play Old Dominion (9-2) and dropped both games of a Saturday doubleheader, but bounced back to win the final game of the series on Sunday.
All three games were very competitive throughout.
“We were in every game and I am satisfied with the way we came out in played,” said head coach Joe Litterio. “It was tough to not grab a win on Saturday, but we were happy to finish with a win on Sunday.”
Rutgers fell in the first game of the Saturday doubleheader, 4-2.
Senior Howie Brey (1-2) made the start and pitched effectively over seven innings, allowing just 2 earned runs and four hits while striking out four.
Senior first baseman Chris Suseck sustained his offensive hot streak by notching two more hits in the game, but the Knights stranded six runners on base and only scored 2 runs.
The second game started a half hour after the first game, and Rutgers saw some better hitting, but it could not hold its lead.
Freshman catcher Nick Matera hit his first career home run, getting the scoring going with a solo shot in the second inning.
Rutgers led 4-1 after four innings, but the Monarchs rallied for a 5-run inning in the fifth frame to take a 6-4 lead.
Junior starter Kyle Driscoll (0-2) ran into some trouble in that inning, and finished with five earned runs in 4.1 innings.
Old Dominion later added an insurance run to take the game, 7-4.
But Matera’s home run was a bright spot for the Knights, and would actually serve them well for Sunday afternoon’s matchup.
“It felt good to hit that home run,” he said. “I got a pitch I felt I could do something with, and I put a good swing on it. It’s a good feeling.”
Matera followed his Saturday blast by recording the game-winning RBI for Rutgers on Sunday, as it finished the series with a 5-2 win.
Sophomore John O’Reilly earned the start for the Knights, and was solid by allowing just 2 runs over six innings of work, finishing with a no-decision.
He knew he was facing an explosive offense in Old Dominion, but tried to stay focused and take it one batter at a time.
“The first couple of games they were really hitting the ball, so I was able to talk to Howie and Kyle and they gave me good advice,” he said. “I just tried to be patient and focus with every pitch.”
The offense came alive for Rutgers in the final game of the series, as it recorded nine hits and seven walks.
With the game tied at 2-2 entering the eighth inning, Matera came up to bat with the go-ahead run on third base and two outs.
He ripped a single through the left side of the infield, scoring Suseck and giving the Knights a 3-2 lead.
Freshman Serafino Brito then entered in relief and picked up his second win of the week by throwing a scoreless inning.
The Knights added two insurance runs in the top of the ninth to give themselves a 5-2 lead, and senior Reed Shuttle came in to record the save and close out the victory.
Senior catcher R.J. Devish, junior shortstop Gaby Rosa and freshman center fielder Mike Martinez each contributed with two hits apiece in the win.
Junior outfielder Tom Marcinczyk also reached base three times and had an RBI.
It was a fine way to close out a weekend of close games, but it began with O’Reilly’s start and his ability to slow down a high-powered Old Dominion offense.
“John had command of all of his pitches,” Litterio said. “After the first inning, he seemed to find his groove. He carried us into the sixth inning and was able to get his curveball over for strikes … He did his job very well for us.”