Rutgers earns 1st Big Ten sweep in program history
The Rutgers baseball team achieved its first sweep in a Big Ten series since joining the conference back in 2015, when it won its three-game series over Michigan State (8-25, 0-8). The Scarlet Knights (13-19, 5-4) improved to 5-4 in the conference, which is good enough for sole possession of eighth place.
Only the top 8 out of the 13 baseball programs in the conference are invited to the Big Ten Tournament in Omaha, Nebraska.
“Two out of three wasn’t good enough, we wanted to get the sweep,” said junior left-handed pitcher Tevin Murray to RVision after the game.
He impressed in front of an array of MLB scouts on Sunday, allowing only one hit over six innings, while striking out nine and walking two, as Rutgers won 8-0 on Sunday to complete the series sweep.
Yesterday, Murray was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week.
Sophomore left-handed pitcher Harry Rutkowski gave the Knights a strong start to open the series on Friday. He got to pitch with a lead for the first time since Feb. 16 at Miami, as senior catcher Tyler McNamara got Rutgers on the board with an RBI single in the first inning against the Spartans.
The Knights would then add two more in the fourth inning on RBI singles from true freshman infielder David Soto and junior outfielder Kevin Blum.
Rutkowski would fall into a little bit of trouble in the sixth inning, giving up a run. He was replaced by junior right-handed pitcher Steven Acosta in the seventh inning. Michigan State would cut it to a 3-2 game on a sacrifice bunt, but that’s the closest it would get.
Right-handed pitchers true freshman Garrett French and senior Serafino Brito would go six up, six down in the eighth and ninth innings, as Rutgers tacked on one more rub to come away with a 4-2 win. Rutkowski earned his first win in more than a calendar year.
The Knights got off to a roaring start on Saturday, thanks in large part to a massive defensive blunder from the Spartans' shortstop Marty Bechina. With Rutgers already leading 1-0, true freshman outfielder Victor Valderama grounded one to Bechina, who booted the ball and threw it away, allowing another run to score.
Bechina was charged with two errors on the play. True freshman catcher Peter Serruto would then follow with a 2-run single and Blum added an RBI single to give the Knights a 5-0 lead after the first inning, more than enough runs for junior right-handed pitcher Tommy Genuario.
Genuario allowed seven hits over six innings, giving up 1 run, while striking out seven and walking two. In his last four appearances (three starts) he has pitched 23.2 innings and allowed 8 runs, 7 of them earned.
If the Knights can make a run to the conference tournament this year, inserting Genuario into the rotation and the improvement of Murray will probably be the two biggest reasons why.
On top of Murray’s impressive start on Sunday, Rutgers' offense kept the line moving en-route to scoring 8 runs. The Knights took a patient approach at the plate, as Michigan State's pitchers were having a very hard time not giving up walks.
Rutgers plated three in the second, with Blum opening the scoring with an RBI double. McNamara delivered the big blow in the game, a 2-run single in the fourth inning to give the team a 5-0 lead.
Although it wasn’t pretty, and the Spartans sure have their flaws — 5 of the team’s 8 runs did not score on a hit — the Knights did what they needed to do, and that was sweep the series.
Rutgers will welcome Hofstra for midweek action on Wednesday, and then Purdue this weekend for a three-game set.
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