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Rutgers comes away with 2 victories at Allstate Sugar Bowl Classic

After being swept in Miami two weekends ago, the Rutgers baseball team was seeking its first win of the season in New Orleans at the Allstate Sugar Bowl Baseball Classic at Maestri Field.

Sophomore left-handed pitcher Harry Rutkowski got the start to begin the series on Friday, after he was previously slated to start on Saturday. He was given the task of setting the tone against a Butler team that scored 27 runs over three games against Rider the previous weekend. 

Rutkowski allowed the first three batters to get on base, including being charged with a fielding error on a bunt off the second batter of the game. 

Harrison Freed then stepped up to the plate and delivered an RBI single to right field to give the Bulldogs (2-3) a 1-0 lead. At the end of the top half of the first, the score was 2-0. That’s all the scoring Butler would have for the entire day, though.

Rutkowski impressed the rest of the way. In total, he threw 7.1 innings, yielded five hits, 2 runs (one earned) and struck out 4 on 95 pitches.

The Bulldogs' Ryan Pepiot struck out nine batters through 5.2 innings, but he walked five during that timespan and the Scarlet Knights (2-4) couldn’t capitalize.  

Butler's Quentin Miller then relieved Pepiot and got the final out of the sixth inning, but ran into trouble in the seventh, allowing shortstop David Soto to score on 1 of his 2 wild pitches in the inning.

The game was 2-1 heading into the ninth, when senior right-handed pitcher Serafino Brito came in and held the Bulldogs scoreless. Rutgers got one last chance in the game and capitalized. Freshman infielder Tim Dezzi hit a 2-run walk-off single against Butler's Jack Pilcher to give the Knights their first win of the season.  

On Saturday, Rutgers had a difficult time against New Orleans.

Leading 2-1 after four and a half innings, the Privateers (5-1) scored 3 runs in the top half of the fifth, and never looked back. Junior left-handed pitcher Tevin Murray pitched four innings and struck out seven batters, but also walked four and yielded four earned runs.  

He was sent out for the bottom of the fifth, but did not record an out. In both of his collegiate starts, he has struck out seven batters.

The Knights' bullpen struggled to keep the team within striking distance. Junior right-handed pitcher Kyle Gerace entered after Murray and allowed one run over two innings. He recorded all three outs in the fifth and sixth innings.  

Junior right-handed pitcher Steven Acosta started the top of the seventh and walked the first two batters before being pulled for junior right-handed pitcher Jack Parkinson, who allowed Acosta’s two inherited runners to score. New Orleans would win that game 7-2.

Sunday brought a golden opportunity for Rutgers to bring home a winning weekend. The Knights were matched up against a Chicago State team that has lost 40 games in each of the last four seasons.

True freshman right-handed pitcher Garrett French got his first career start and threw 2.1 innings, yielding two earned runs on two hits, but it was another true freshman pitcher that took the spotlight. 

Left-hander Brian Fitzpatrick threw 4.1 innings, struck out seven and picked up the win.

Rutgers found itself down 2-1 in the top of the fourth, but tied the game on an RBI triple from senior infielder Carmen Sclafani and took the lead on an RBI single from true freshman catcher Peter Serruto.

The Knights added 3 more runs and didn’t allow the Cougars (0-5) to score once more en-route to a 6-2 victory and winning 2 of 3 on the weekend.

Rutgers had its mid-week game against Wagner at Bainton Field postponed today. The April 3 game scheduled at Wagner will now be played in Piscataway. The Knights are playing next in a three-game series at Old Dominion, beginning this Friday.

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

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