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Rutgers falters late, loses 2 of 3 over weekend

The Rutgers baseball team finished off another inconsistent weekend early Sunday afternoon as it dropped 2 out of 3 games in Port Charlotte, Florida. 

The weekend started with a thriller against Indiana on Friday as the Scarlet Knights (2-4) fell to the No. 17 Hoosiers by a score of 7-6. 

Senior pitcher John O’Reilly got the start for Rutgers and fared a little better this time out going four and one-third innings and giving up 5 runs (4 earned) on nine hits. He also walked two batters and struck out three. 

After falling behind 5-2 after four innings, the Knights began their comeback. After a 2-run single by junior center fielder Jawuan Harris in the top of the sixth, Indiana's lead was cut to 1 run. 

Having scored an unearned run in the seventh, the Hoosiers found themselves up 2 runs going into the eighth. It was then in the eighth where Rutgers' junior catcher Nick Matera doubled into the right center field gap to bring in 2 runners and tie the game. 

But, the tie didn’t last long as Indiana answered back immediately in the bottom of the inning, scoring on a bases-loaded walk to take a 7-6 lead and ultimately win the game. 

Even with the loss, the Knights showed great fight competing with the Big Ten favorite for all nine innings. 

On Saturday, Rutgers faced off against St. Bonaventure, and frankly dominated throughout the whole game, ending with a 13-4 rout. 

Freshman pitcher Harry Rutkowski got the nod from head coach Joe Litterio, tossing five solid innings and giving up 3 runs (all earned) on seven hits. The southpaw walked two and struck out four leading up to his first collegiate victory. 

Offensively, the Knights put on quite a show, posting 13 runs on 17 hits. Every starter recorded a hit for Rutgers including five players who recorded multiple hits. 

True freshman outfielder Mike Nyisztor set the tone for the lineup, racking up three RBIs out of the leadoff spot, while redshirt freshman second baseman Dan DiGeorgio continued his hot start to the season, going 2-2 with two RBIs and 2 runs scored. Sophomore shortstop Kevin Welsh had a big day of his own going 3-4 with an RBI and 2 runs scored. 

Collectively, it was a breakout performance for this Rutgers squad as the whole lineup showed how productive it can be.

Finally, the Knights closed the weekend in Port Charlotte with a matchup against Boston College. The final score of 11-6 does not depict how close things were for most of the game. 

Left-handed freshman pitcher Eric Heatter made his first start of the year for Rutgers after being named Big Ten Freshman of the Week this past week. Heatter went for six strong innings giving up just 3 runs (all earned) on 10 hits. He showed off his great control by not walking a single batter, while striking out two. 

Behind Heatter’s strong start, the Knights were staked with a 6-3 lead going into the seventh. The Eagles then tacked on a run on a passed ball in the top of the innings to make it a 6-4 ball game. 

The score stood until the top of the ninth, which is when the wheels came off for Rutgers, allowing seven Eagles to cross home plate, giving Boston College the eventual win. 

All in all, it was a promising weekend for the Knights despite the two disappointing losses. The team showed it can hang with some very good ball clubs and will take that with them for the remainder of the season. 

The first opportunity for Rutgers to build on this weekend will be in its next game against Wagner on Tuesday. 

With a 3 p.m.-scheduled first pitch and a beautiful 60-degree forecast, it is sure to be quite a day as the Knights play their first home game of the season. The Seahawks will visit Rutgers coming off a two-game sweep of Coppin State University this past weekend and will look to keep their win streak alive. 

Meanwhile, the Knights will try to bounce back after the defeating loss against Boston College on Sunday. 

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

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