The Rutgers baseball team packed its bags and headed to Peoria, Arizona, over the weekend for a three-game slate with Washington State before returning home for a contest with Saint Peter’s yesterday.
The Scarlet Knights (5-6), having come off a sweep of North Florida and home opener victory over Wagner, weren’t able to replicate their recent performances, dropping 2 out of 3 to the Cougars (5-6) while also taking a loss against the Peacocks (1-11).
Starting off on Friday, Rutgers fell to Washington State by a final score of 9-2. It was a game to forget, as the Knights tallied four errors, leading their pitching staff to only surrender 3 earned runs.
Following up with the next game on Saturday, the Cougars again came out of the Peoria Sports Complex with a victory, as they trounced Rutgers 10-2.
On Sunday, though, the Knights were able to find their recently absent stroke of success and took down Washington State in a 6-1 effort.
Rutgers took an early lead in the game off of a sophomore infielder Tim Dezzi RBI double before sophomore outfielder Richie Schiekofer followed him up with an RBI single to make it 2-0 in the first inning.
“We got off to a good start,” said head coach Steve Owens. “It’s important for us to be ready to play right away.”
From there, the Knights tacked on another run in the second inning after a hit-by-pitch forced one in. Though senior left-handed pitcher Tevin Murray gave up a run on a sacrifice fly in the bottom half of the inning, he performed well on the day, allowing just two hits while tallying five strikeouts and three walks in 5.2 innings pitched.
“(Murray) got going again today,” Owens said. “He had some counts where he was behind early, but found it and got us into the sixth inning. That was exactly what we needed. He only gave up two hits, did a great job.”
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Parker Scott also pitched well for Rutgers, giving up only two hits while striking out two in 3.1 innings pitched. He came in relief for Murray in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and escaped it by striking out one of the Cougars for the final out of the bottom half.
With that win, the Knights secured their first victory over a Pac-12 team in program history.
“It was a good win for us (to) come back after not playing well the last two days,” Owens said. “This was a good ending to the week, finishing 2-2. We are now at .500 through three weeks after playing some good teams. We'll take the positives from that and continue to build.”
Rutgers’ next game, which was scheduled for Tuesday against Saint Joseph’s, was postponed for April 22. At the Salt Lake City International Airport, the Knights’ luggage and equipment were sprayed with jet fuel as they were waiting for a connecting flight back from the weekend series.
The following day, Rutgers was still able to take the field, but wasn’t able to carry over any momentum from the win against Washington State. Saint Peter’s used a 4-run third inning to take a lead that would be kept for the rest of the afternoon.
Sophomore left-handed pitcher Jared Bellissimo gave up all 4 of those runs, allowing the Peacocks to score off of two singles and a double in the inning.
True freshman right-handed pitcher Matt Ciccone gave up a 2-run home run that extended Saint Peter’s’ lead in the sixth inning. He has now given up a run in 4 of his 5 appearances this season.
Each of the Knights’ 3 runs came in the second inning, with Schiekofer starting the scoring off with a leadoff home run. Later in the inning, two RBI doubles gave Rutgers its other 2 runs of the game. It lost the contest by a final score of 6-3.
The Knights will next head to Norfolk, Virginia, for their three-game set with Old Dominion. The Monarchs (9-2) have won each of their three-game series this year and will look to prevent Rutgers from improving its record to above .500.
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