Rutgers drops midweek matchup vs. Princeton
While the Rutgers baseball team had multiple chances to tie or win the game in the final innings yesterday, it couldn't break through, and suffered a defeat.
Despite three RBI's from junior catcher Nick Matera, the Scarlet Knights (13-9, 2-1) were unable to rally late and lost to Princeton (3-10) at Bainton Field.
The game was back-and-forth throughout, as Rutgers struck first in the third inning on a single from Matera. Princeton took the lead in the fifth with four runs, but the Knights responded immediately with three runs in the bottom of the frame to tie the game. Matera collected his second and third RBI's to cut the lead to 1, and then scored the tying run on an error one batter later.
The Tigers retook the lead in the very next inning, and Rutgers countered again with a run in the bottom of the inning to cut the lead in half. But, that would be the last of the scoring for either team.
The Knights had a great opportunity to tie or take the lead in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases with no outs. Princeton responded by bringing in freshman Eli Kimbell to limit the damage, and he got sophomore second baseman Kevin Welsh and junior outfielder Luke Bowerbank to strike out before inducing redshirt freshman shortstop Dan DiGeorgio to ground out. Rutgers would not threaten again, as it went down in order in both the eighth and ninth against Kimbell.
Junior center fielder Jawuan Harris and redshirt senior first baseman Chris Folinusz drove in 1 run each to support Matera’s three RBI's, and Harris, Matera and junior third baseman Carmen Sclafani led the team with two hits apiece. Senior designated hitter Kyle Walker extended his hitting streak to 17 games, the longest hitting streak by a Knight since 2012. Walker’s .421 batting average leads the team and ranks second in the Big Ten.
Sophomore pitcher Eric Reardon threw 4.1 innings, his longest outing of the year, and allowed no earned runs with three hits, five walks and two strikeouts. Juniors Ryan Wares and Serafino Brito contributed scoreless efforts in relief, while freshman Jacob Kodros got the loss for allowing the go-ahead run in the sixth.
Rutgers returns to Big Ten play this weekend with a three-game series at Michigan State (6-17, 0-3). The Knights are winless against the Spartans since joining the Big Ten in 2015, having been swept in 2015 and 2016.
If there were a time for Rutgers to break that losing streak, it would be now. Michigan State is currently on a six-game losing streak and has lost 7 of its last 10. It ranks second-to-last in the Big Ten with a team batting average of .231, and is ahead of Penn State by just one point.
While the Knights have seven players with 10 or more RBI's, the Spartans have just one, junior Dan Chmielewski. Rutgers also has eight players with at least 20 hits, in contrast to Michigan State’s three, and five players batting over .300 while the Spartans have none.
Following the series, the Knights take another break from conference play for a while, facing Villanova twice, La Salle three times and Lafayette once.
For updates on the Rutgers baseball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.