July 21, 2019 | 83° F

Rutgers downed by Columbia in game shortened due to darkness

Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez |

An early lead wasn’t enough as the Rutgers baseball team fell to Columbia 13-7 Wednesday afternoon at Bainton Field.

A leadoff home run off the bat of senior first baseman Mike Carter to start the bottom of the first opened up the scoring and gave the Scarlet Knights (15-23, 4-5) an early 1-0 advantage. Rutgers hoped the home run would signal things to come for the rest of the game. It did — but not the way the Knights would have liked.

A day after a game against Villanova on Tuesday was rained out, scheduled starter senior right hander Christian Campbell was bumped down a day and took the ball on Wednesday to face the Lions (15-21). After a clean first and then being handed the lead, Campbell (2-3) could not keep it. He would allow 2 runs in the top of the second — one off of a towering shot to right field in which senior right fielder Tom Marcinczyk didn’t even move.

Rutgers would come back in the bottom of the inning though, loading the bases with nobody out. After a strikeout, freshman shortstop Kevin Welsh ripped a run-scoring single, pulling the game even at 2. Then, in his second at-bat of the game, Carter produced a 2-run single of his own to give Rutgers a 4-2 lead. A double steal attempt cut the rally short after Welsh was caught trying to steal third base.

In the next half inning, Campbell gave up another home run — this one a 2-run shot — that tied the game back up at 4 all. The Knights would again prove it was up to the task by scoring in the bottom half of the inning off of a sacrifice fly off the bat of junior catcher Chris Folinusz to make things 5-4 in favor of Rutgers.

After a scoreless fourth for both teams, Campbell exited the game with one out in the fifth inning and a runner on third base. Sophomore left hander Dante Scafidi — who was scheduled to start this game —came in for relief and got the next two batters out but allowed the inherited runner to score on a sacrifice fly, closing the book on Campbell and tying the game at 5. 

Campbell finished his day going four and one-thirds innings giving up 5 runs on six hits and two home runs.

Scafidi would load the bases in the sixth after getting the first out and was pulled for freshman reliever Kyle Gerace. Gerace let up two hits and allowed all the runners on base to score — all of which were charged to Scafidi — giving the Lions a 9-5 lead.

A double by sophomore second baseman Carmen Sclafani in the sixth scored sophomore left fielder Luke Bowerbank and pushed the Knights closer at 9-6.

Columbia would pull away in the next two innings, scoring 2 in the seventh — off of another home run, this one an inside-the-parker — and 2 in the eighth, giving them 13 runs.

A balk in the seventh inning brought in sophomore centerfielder Jawuan Harris who walked, was balked to second and stole third. In the eighth, Sclafani hit a ground-rule double — ending his day in which he went 3-4 with two doubles, one RBI and 1 run scored.

With two outs, Welsh worked a two-out walk bringing up Carter who, after his two hits earlier in the game, was looking for his 200th career hit. A line drive right back to the pitcher spoiled Carter’s afternoon and ended the shortened game due to darkness after eight innings.

With three more errors on the day, Rutgers has made 63 errors this season and owns the worst fielding percentage in The Big Ten.

This was only the fourth time this season the team has lost when scoring more than 6 runs — all of the losses coming in the last two weeks.

The Knights will continue their season long homestand as they host No. 17 Michigan in a three game weekend series starting on Friday.

For updates on the Rutgers baseball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

Robert Sanchez

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