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Rutgers takes 3-game sweep at hands of Old Dominion

 – Photo by Benjamin Chelnitsky

The Rutgers baseball team traveled to Virginia over the weekend to take on Old Dominion in a three-game series. The Scarlet Knights (5-9) dropped all three games against the Monarchs (12-2), who have now won 8 of their last 9 games. 

In the matchup on Friday, Rutgers was defeated 3-1. The only run for the Knights came from junior infielder Mike Nyisztor’s home run in the seventh inning, which tied the game up at 1. Old Dominion later scored 2 runs in the eighth inning to break the tie. It then closed it out in the ninth. 

Junior left-handed pitcher Harry Rutkowski held the Monarchs' offense to only 1 run and two hits over six innings. 

"Harry was outstanding, pitched with a lot of energy," said head coach Steve Owens. "He kept his velocity late and gave us a really good start. I challenged him to be good today and he was excellent. Nyisztor had good at bats all day, squared up the ball several times ... For the most part, we created scoring opportunities, but they got hits in key spots. We had several key spots and were beat. The trend of the opposing pitcher beating us with men in scoring position continues, too many strikeouts."

Rutgers struck out 13 times in the matchup, opposed to Old Dominion's seven times. Despite getting seven hits throughout the game, outnumbering the Monarchs' total of six, the Knights missed opportunities late to take the lead. 

For Old Dominion, it had three different players with one RBI. Kyle Battle, Tommy Bell and Matt Courtney all had one RBI each in the low scoring game. 

In the following matchup on Saturday, Rutgers couldn’t find any luck in defeating the Monarchs. In another close game, Old Dominion defeated the Knights 8-7. Rutgers was stunned in the ninth inning, when the Monarchs scored 3 runs. The Knights were up 5-0 going into the fourth inning. 

Although Rutgers had an abundance of RBIs, it came up short. Players including senior infielder Kevin Welsh, sophomore infielder Tim Dezzi, true freshman infielder Grant Shulman, sophomore infielder Chris Brito and sophomore outfielder Victor Valderrama all contributed to the large scoring effort for the Knights.  

"We had several guys that had very good offensive days," Owens said. "(Sophomore outfielder) Richie (Schiekofer) had a good day, Kevin was very good at the plate. I was happy to see Victor pick up two RBIs in key spots. So there were a lot of bright spots offensively."

After the fourth inning, Old Dominion outscored Rutgers 8-3. The walk-off single came from Battle to end the contest. Robbie Petracci led the way for the Monarchs with two RBIs. 

The Knights' bullpen struggled against Old Dominion. Owens shared his thoughts on its performance, and his mindset going into the next game. 

"(Senior right-handed pitcher) Tommy (Genuario) gave us a solid start, but we gave up 6 runs after he left before getting 11 outs. Too many wild pitches, balks and the inability to strike guys out,” Owens said. “There were a bunch of singles against us in key spots. We didn't do a good job today pitching out of the bullpen. That's disappointing because we played a good game and expanded our lead, but it wasn't enough to put them away. We did some stuff better today than yesterday, struck out less and had 14 hits. Progress in one area, but two steps back in another. On to tomorrow."

The following game, Rutgers took another loss to the Monarchs, with Old Dominion coming out on top by a final score of 11-1. Senior left-handed pitcher Tevin Murray gave up 5 runs (3 earned) and hit two batters in 4.1 innings pitched. 

While fifth-year senior right-handed pitcher Steven Acosta was more successful in his time on the mound, his successors, senior right-handed pitcher Jack Parkinson and true freshman right-handed pitcher Matt Ciccone, both struggled.

The Knights' only run came on a sixth-inning homer, though the deficit was only cut down to 6-1 as a result.

Rutgers will take on Monmouth at home tomorrow at 3 p.m. for its next game.

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