July 20, 2019 | 85° F

Rutgers drops all three at home to Maryland

Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez |

Following a four-game winning streak, the Rutgers baseball team saw that streak snapped as it was swept by Maryland in its first conference series on the season.

The Scarlet Knights (10-17, 0-3) mustered 3 runs in the three-games series and were outscored by the now-No. 25 Terrapins (18-8, 5-1) 20-3, capped by a 9-1 loss in the second game of the Sunday doubleheader in which Rutgers got four hits — three of which came off of the bat of sophomore catcher Nick Matera, who entered the game in the third inning as a pinch hitter.

After Friday’s game was rained out, the series began on Saturday. The Knights fell to an early 2-0 deficit with the second run coming off a home run given up by sophomore right hander Serafino Brito in the second inning. Brito would stymie the Maryland batters after that until the fifth inning, where the wheels came off.

With runners on first and second and one out, Brito induced a ground ball to the second baseman, sophomore Carmen Sclafani, who threw to second for one out. The shortstop, freshman Kevin Welsh threw wide to first, looking for the second out of the double play, as the runner on second came in to score. After a triple plated another run, senior third baseman Christian Campbell made his second error on the day, allowing the third run of the inning to score, making it 5-0.

Campbell tried making up for his two errors on the day by going yard in the bottom of the sixth inning, cutting the Maryland lead to 5-1, but that held as the eventual final score.

Brito (1-6) finished the day going six innings, giving up six hits and 5 runs — 3 of them earned — while striking out five and walking none. Brito, who took the loss, has been a hard-luck pitcher so far this year as the defense behind him has not had his back — a theme early on for this Rutgers defense. He has given up 31 runs this year with 8 of them being unearned.

For game one of Sunday’s doubleheader — an early start time with first pitch coming at 11 a.m. — junior right hander John O’Reilly took the ball and looked to notch a win for his team.

After giving up an unearned run in the second inning, O’Reilly settled down throwing up zeros the next four innings. In the seventh, the defense betrayed him again as a throwing error by Matera allowed a run to score and kept the inning alive. Another run would come across during the inning as Maryland led 3-1.

O’Reilly would go back out to start the eighth but walked the leadoff hitter on four pitches. After getting the next batter to pop up, O’Reilly gave up an RBI triple to make it 4-1. Head coach Joe Litterio went to the bullpen after that.

Freshman left hander Eric Reardon came in, walked the first man to face him and then balked, allowing the runner on third to score, which was charged to O’Reilly. After a ground out and another RBI single, this time charged to Reardon, freshman right hander Kyle Gerace came in and got a strikeout to end the inning. The damage had been done, as the Knights loss 6-1.

Rutgers’ lone run came in the third inning after Sclafani doubled to start the frame. After advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt, sophomore centerfielder Jawuan Harris drove home Sclafani with an RBI single, tying the game at one.

O’Reilly (1-6) took the loss but pitched well, going seven and one-thirds innings, a new career high, giving up 5 runs — 3 of them earned on six hits while striking out six and walking one.

After a quick break, it was time for game two of the day as senior right hander Gaby Rosa got the start and looked to stop the bleeding. After a 2-run top of the first, Maryland hit back-to-back home runs in the third to spoil Rosa’s outing. Rosa exited the game after walking the very next batter.

Senior left hander Ryan Fleming entered but could not stop the inherited runner from scoring. After three innings, the Terrapins were on top 6-0. And they weren’t done yet. After scoring twice more in the fourth, Maryland scored again in the fifth to make it an insurmountable 9-0. The Knights would get on the board in the sixth after a dropped fly ball by the right fielder which allowed senior designated hitter Mike Carter, who was hit by a pitch, to score from second base and make it 9-1, the final score.

Rosa (3-2) took it on the chest giving up 5 earned runs in his two innings plus of work. No starter collected a hit in the final game as pinch hitters Matera and freshman Tommy Genuario collected three and one hits, respectively.

Rutgers has now made 47 errors on the season — the most in the Big Ten. It will look to get back on track at Villanova for a midweek non-conference game on Wednesday before heading to Minnesota for conference play.

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

Robert Sanchez

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