O'Reilly powers Rutgers to series win with Sunday gem


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On a warm Easter Sunday, the Rutgers baseball team looked to take the rubber game of its series against Purdue.

After winning the second game of the series on Saturday but losing the first game the day before, the Scarlet Knights (13-19, 2-4) put junior right-hander John O’Reilly on the hill to make his 30th career start with hopes of securing Rutgers’ first conference series win of the season. The veteran did not disappoint.

O’Reilly (3-5) held the Boilermakers (18-17, 6-6) scoreless through the first six innings — characteristically putting up goose eggs on the scoreboard for Easter. In fact, the right-hander retired the first 19 batters he faced, carrying a perfect game with one out in the seventh inning.

After a seventh inning walk and subsequent single ended both the bid for the perfect game and the first no-hitter by Rutgers since Gary Malikoski’s no-no in 1978, O’Reilly would let up two runs — ending his chance for the shutout as well.

It didn’t matter.

Offensively, the Knights knocked Purdue starting pitcher Mike Kornacker (1-2) out of the game after just four innings. Kornacker gave up all 8 runs Rutgers would score on the day on nine hits and four walks while striking out none.

O’Reilly’s line was much better. Pitching into the eighth inning for the first time in his career, O’Reilly would finish the eighth and set a new career-high for innings pitched. He finished his dominant outing giving up 2 runs on three hits while walking two and striking out seven — matching the career-high he set on opening night this year against Miami — on just 95 pitches. 

The Knights padded him with an early 3-0 lead in the first inning. Senior first baseman Mike Carter and sophomore centerfielder Jawuan Harris led off the game with back-to-back walks but after a double-play threatened to end the big inning, the veteran's hitters found some two-out magic in them.

First, senior right fielder Tom Marcinczyk found a hole for an RBI single, then senior Christian Campbell ripped a single of his own with both runners advancing on an error. Junior designated hitter Chris Folinusz would plate them both with a double to right-center.

After a run in the third made it 4-0, Rutgers doubled that total with a 4-run fourth inning. After Folinusz doubled, freshman Kevin Welsh laid down a bunt that was thrown away, allowing Folinusz to score. Sophomore catcher Nick Matera followed Welsh with a bunt single of his own putting runners on first and third. After sophomore second baseman Carmen Sclafani hit a sacrifice fly, it set the table for Harris’s RBI triple, followed by sophomore left fielder Mike Martinez’s RBI single. Before you knew it, the Knights were up 8-0 and won by a score of 8-2.

A 7-6 win on Saturday — also secured by a crooked fourth inning — marked the first conference win of the season for Rutgers. Sophomore right-hander Serafino Brito (2-6) earned the win after going six innings and giving up 4 earned runs while senior Max Herrmann picked up a six-out save — his fifth of the season and the 14th of his career.

After the win, all of the Knights took part in shaving their heads out beyond the left field fence to cap the team’s Vs. Cancer Foundation fundraiser that saw the program raise $17,690.92 this year. All of the proceeds will support children’s cancer research and treatment.


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Robert Sanchez

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