Rutgers bats find life in sweep at USC Upstate
The bats have awoken.
The Rutgers baseball team snapped a five-game losing streak this weekend with a three-game sweep of USC Upstate in South Carolina. During that five-game stretch, the Scarlet Knights (9-14) failed to score more than 4 runs, a tough plan for success for a team who had gone 33-8 since 2015 when scoring more than 6 runs.
That record now says 35-8.
Rutgers took the first game of the series a little differently — with excellent pitching and some timely hitting. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Serafino Brito (1-5) pitched seven innings, giving up no runs on eight hits and striking out five to secure his first win of the season.
The Knights offense gave him an early lead to work with as they scored 2 in the first and 2 in the second and would eventually win by a score of 5-1. Senior Mike Carter, who started the game in left field, did most of the damage, going 2-5 with a double and four runs batted in (RBI). Sophomore centerfielder Jawuan Harris and senior third baseman Christian Campbell also had two hit performances.
For the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, senior right-hander John O’Reilly (1-4) was effective in his five and two-thirds innings of work, giving up 4 runs on eight hits but left the game with his team down 4-1 and could not qualify for the win. Rutgers would quickly respond, scoring 4 runs in the next half inning to go up 5-4. USC Upstate responded with 3 runs of their own an inning later and went up 7-5. The Knights though had another big inning in them and scored 5 unanswered runs in the top of the eighth and won by a score of 10-7. Junior Ryan Wares (1-0) came in for the seventh inning and picked up his first win on the season.
Shortly after the first game, the Knights were playing in the second game of the doubleheader and picked up right where they left off, literally. Harris hit a leadoff home run to start the game and Rutgers would score 6 runs in the top of the first inning and chased starter Campbell out of the game after only two-thirds innings.
Harris went on to hit two more dingers to give him a team-leading seven on the season as the Knights went on to win 11-3. Harris finished the game going 3-5 with four RBIs. Carter, junior first baseman Milo Freeman, sophomore left fielder Mike Martinez and freshman shortstop Kevin Welsh each had two hits apiece. Martinez, who started both games on Saturday, finished the day with five hits including a home run.
Senior right hander Gaby Rosa (3-1) picked up the win pitching five innings of one run ball. Freshman Eric Reardon, Kyle Gerace and Tevin Murray as well as sophomore Kevin Romero finished things off in relief.
The three-game sweep was the first for Rutgers since taking down USF at Bainton Field in 2014 and the first sweep away from home since 2013 when they beat Villanova in all three games.
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