Rutgers drops season-opener series to Miami

The Rutgers baseball team started off its season with a three-game series against Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, over the weekend. It was unable to capture a win against its opponent, dropping to an 0-3 mark in the process to open up this year’s campaign.

Beginning on Friday, the Scarlet Knights (0-3) tabbed junior left-handed pitcher Harry Rutkowski to take the mound against the No. 1 Hurricanes (3-0). After sitting down the first three batters of the game, Rutkowski was able to quiet Miami’s bats until the third inning, when the Hurricanes faced a two-out, bases-loaded situation after two singles and a walk.

Adrian Del Castillo, who ended the series 5-for-8 with 6 runs batted in for Miami, drove in 2 runs off of a two-out single, allowing the Hurricanes to take the first lead of the game. 

Though those runs would be the only ones Rutkowski and Rutgers allowed on the day, as the left-hander blanked Miami for the rest of his five innings, the Hurricanes were still able to hold on for a 2-1 win after the Knights pulled 1 win with a sophomore infielder Chris Brito home run.

Rutgers, having dropped the first game of the series, would need to have a more productive day at the plate while continuing its success on the mound if it was going to end Saturday’s effort with a different outcome.

The Knights did neither, dropping the second game of the series to Miami in an 8-2 blowout. 

After limiting the Hurricanes to 3 runs through the first four innings in a 75-pitch effort, head coach Steve Owens opted to pull starter fifth-year senior right-handed pitcher Tommy Genuario, bringing in sophomore left-handed pitcher Jared Bellissimo in his place.

Though Bellissimo was able to prevent Miami from taking any larger of a lead, allowing only two baserunners in two innings pitched, his successor was not.

Fifth-year senior right-handed pitcher Steven Acosta, who pitched to the tune of a 4.03 earned run average last year, allowed a leadoff double to begin the bottom half of the seventh inning before walking the next two batters he faced. The Hurricanes’ next man up at the plate, Gabe Rivera, hit a grand slam to extend Miami’s lead to 7-2.

After another home run that half-inning, the Hurricanes kept Rutgers quiet for the rest of the game, clinching the series win in the process. 

The Knights would move onto Sunday’s game in search of a win to salvage the series. They once again needed a strong performance on the mound and at the plate if they were to head into their next three-game series with a victory against the top-ranked program in the country.

After a bottom half of a first inning that saw six Miami runners reach base with 2 runs coming off senior left-handed pitcher Tevin Murray as a result, the tone was set for what the Hurricanes would do at the plate the rest of the afternoon.

Miami loaded the bases through a hit-by-pitch, single and walk in the bottom half of the second before Murray was pulled in place of sophomore right-handed pitcher Parker Scott. Scott struggled, allowing 1 run to score on a wild pitch in the inning before an error in the field led to another. Over the next three innings, the Hurricanes scored three more off Scott, extending their lead to 7-0 before the start of the sixth.

Rutgers’ home runs from sophomore catcher Peter Serruto and Brito were part of a 5-run eighth inning from the Knights, though they wouldn’t be enough for their team to come close to Miami’s 12-6 lead at that point in the game. The Hurricanes eventually won by a score of 13-6.

Up next, Rutgers takes on North Florida for three games this weekend to finish out its road trip to the Sunshine State. It then returns to Bainton Field in Piscataway, New Jersey, for its home-opener against Wagner at 2 p.m. on Tuesday.

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

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