Rutgers overcomes 4-run deficit to fend off Seton Hall
Before hosting its first series of the season, the Rutgers softball team had to take care of one last order of business. And while it initially looked like the team would lose, it showed its mettle in earning an impressive victory.
The Scarlet Knights (10-24, 1-5) earned a 13-7 come-from-behind win against Seton Hall (16-14-1, 3-3) yesterday in South Orange. The 13 runs were the most Rutgers has scored in a game so far this season, and came in the aftermath of them only scoring three times in three games against Ohio State last weekend.
“We did a good job hitting the ball today, and we could have scored more,” said head coach Jay Nelson. “We have a lot of confidence in our hitting. We were 2 runs away from run-ruling them after being down by 4 at one point.”
Rutgers started the slugfest right away, as junior designated hitter Rebecca Hall hit an RBI, giving the Knights a 3-0 lead. But the Pirates quickly responded, scoring 4 runs in the bottom of the frame to go ahead.
After Rutgers left the bases loaded in the second, Seton Hall tacked on 3 more runs on back-to-back home runs to push the lead to four. The Knights scored 3 of their own in the third to bring the deficit back to one.
Rutgers then retook the lead in the fourth, as Hall tied the game with a home run, followed by two hits and an error which brought home two more. This was where Nelson said the momentum shifted.
“We had second and third and I put Meaghan Wells in as a pinch hitter with two outs,” he said. “She drilled a pitch to left field which scored 2 runs, so that was a big lift for us.”
Seton Hall looked poised to tie or take the lead in the bottom of the frame, loading the bases with one out. But sophomore Whitney Jones induced a groundout and a flyout to escape unscathed from the jam.
The Knights stretched the lead to four in the fifth, as sophomore left fielder Nicolette Anico led off with a single and freshman shortstop Nicole Bowman hit a double and scored on a two-base error. And in the sixth, freshman third baseman Anyssa Iliopoulos hit a 2-run home run, the first of her collegiate career, to push the lead to six, which would be the final margin.
While credit should be given to the Rutgers' bats for igniting the comeback, the key ingredient was Jones. The sophomore came on in relief of freshman Cambria Keefer and pitched 5 and two-thirds innings of scoreless ball to prevent the Pirates from staging a comeback of their own.
“I knew that I was in relief for this game, so I just tried to be ready in case they needed me to go in,” she said. “I was trying to make sure that I was keeping the ball low and worked on hitting my spots. I knew that the defense had my back, so as long as I kept the ball low, they would make the plays.”
The Knights also got contributions from many batters up and down the lineup. Six players had two or more hits, five players scored 2 more runs and six different players had RBIs. Hall hit her team-leading eleventh home run this season, and freshman second baseman Taryn Atlee led the team with three hits.
Rutgers also took advantage of a multitude of Seton Hall errors. The Pirates committed five miscues in the field, leading to 4 unearned runs.
The Knights return to action against Nebraska in their first home game of the season on Thursday.
“This win shows that no matter what deficit we have, we can always come back and fight,” Bowman said. “We have the bats, and it’s just a matter of finding our rhythm.”
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