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Rutgers gets back in win column with 7-6 win over Monmouth

The Rutgers baseball team got back on the winning side of things on Tuesday night, as it took out Monmouth in a 7-6 victory on the road.

First baseman Chris Folinusz was 1-4 on the day when he stepped into the batter’s box with two outs in the top of the eighth. The fifth-year senior had a RBI single in the first, but was hitless since then and struck out with a runner on third in the sixth. With the game tied, he knew he had to deliver. And deliver he did, with the biggest hit of the afternoon. 

“I got (runners) in on my first bat, but I didn’t on my next two. I really needed to dig in and put the ball in play and it felt good to get the job done,” he said on his mindset during the at-bat.

Folinusz’s RBI single made the difference yesterday, propelling the Scarlet Knights (19-14, 4-5) to the 7-6 victory against the Hawks (12-20, 3-6). The win snapped a season-high three-game losing streak and gave the team high spirits after being swept by No. 18 Illinois this past weekend.

Head coach Joe Litterio noticed a big difference between the offense yesterday and during last weekend.

“We went back to swinging the bats better. We got quality at-bats with two-out hits and RBI's. There’s still stuff we need to work on, but getting the win was most important," he said. 

Both teams exchanged runs in the first, but Rutgers struck the first big blow in the second, scoring 5 runs. The Knights loaded the bases with one out and freshman left fielder Mike Nyisztor delivered a 2-run double to break the tie. A walk loaded the bases once again, but junior catcher Nick Matera cleared them immediately with a double to right center, making it 6-1.

Monmouth got 3 runs in bottom of the frame, all unearned and that would end the scoring for a while. The next runs came in the sixth, as the Hawks scored 2 more runs to tie the game. The tying run was the fourth unearned run of the game. 

The two errors that caused the runs to be unearned were both charged to graduate student pitcher Karl Blum, who was visibly frustrated with his defensive miscues after the game.

“I didn’t field my position that well today. Part of pitching is fielding your position, so even though I was happy with how I was throwing the ball, I have to be able to throw the ball to the bases as well," he said. 

Outside of his defensive play, Blum delivered a quality start. His four innings tied his career high and he allowed just four hits. 

But the one stat that he was the most proud of was not allowing a walk.

“I’ve been struggling to keep the ball in the zone and I got out of there without walking anybody. I was pretty happy with how I was throwing in the zone. There were a couple of times where we were in a tight spot with the bases loaded, and I needed to make a big pitch and I left it all out and we were able to capitalize," he said. 

After Blum left, the bullpen took over and was instrumental in getting the win. 

While junior Serafino Brito gave up the tying runs in the sixth, junior Ryan Wares pitched a perfect seventh and eighth and sophomore Tommy Genuario earned his first save of the season with a scoreless ninth.

“It was great for them to go out and do what they did and it was outstanding how they put it together,” Litterio said. 

Rutgers returns home to face Nebraska for a three-game series, hoping to keep up the momentum from yesterday. Litterio said the team wasn’t worried about extending its losing streak prior to yesterday’s game, but now it can focus on getting a winning streak.

“We don’t worry about that kind of stuff," he said. "You go into every game with a positive attitude and you hope you play well. Baseball’s a funny game and the best team doesn’t win all the time, so you got to go and play your game. We did that and we got on top. We got back to the win column and that’s the most important thing."

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

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