The Rutgers baseball team came into Ann Arbor to take on No. 17 Michigan and won 2 out of 3 against the former College World Series runner-ups.
Game one saw the Scarlet Knights (14-13, 14-13) bats explode early in the game. Redshirt freshman outfielder Evan Sleight hit a three-run double in the first to give Rutgers the lead early. The Knights' only other run came from a solo home run from fifth-year senior infielder Danny DiGeorgio in the fourth inning.
Steven Hajjar was able to settle down on the mound for the Wolverines (19-9, 19-9) after his rough start to the game. He pitched five innings, punching out nine Rutgers batters.
Junior left-handed pitcher Harry Rutkowski was competing with Hajjar going five innings while giving up four runs.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Michigan was able to generate a base runner leading to a double then a triple tying the game at 4.
“They got some singles on him with two outs. There's a reason Michigan is ranked. They got the job done in key situations, and although we competed at a high level, we didn't,” said head baseball coach Steve Owens.
The Knights ended up losing the game with a score of 6-4. Out of the 6 runs that the Wolverines scored, 5 of them came with two outs.
Game two saw graduate student left-handed pitcher Ben Wereski pitch a masterful game for Rutgers. Against Michigan, Wereski went 7.2 innings, only giving up one earned run and striking out six in the game.
"(Wereski) really locked in there and was locating very well," Owens said. "He stayed ahead of hitters and generated a lot of weak contact, only four hits allowed. Michigan is a good hitting team and he pitched through them very effectively. We needed that type of length, he's been super all year."
Wereski, who transferred from Columbia, holds the number two spot in the rotation. He has a 5-2 record, with a 2.79 ERA, and has struck out 40 in 48.1 innings pitched. So far he leads the team in most of those categories.
The Wolverines took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth due to a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly that each scored a run.
The Knights scored four runs in the next inning, taking a 4-2 lead. Junior outfielder Richie Schiekofer hit a three-run double to left-center and Schiekofer came around to score on a RBI single from redshirt freshman first baseman Jordan Sweeney.
After leading 4-2, sophomore pitcher Nate McLain came in to finish the eighth inning and the rest of the game, picking up his second save of the year.
The rubber game of the series had Rutgers giving the ball to graduate student pitcher Brent Teller who pitched his best game this season and longest of his career, going 7.1 innings.
Teller was given an early lead from freshman outfielder Ryan Lasko, who hit a two-run home run to take a 2-0 lead in the third. In the next inning, fifth-year senior infielder Kevin Welsh hit a sacrifice fly, scoring another run and extending the lead to 3-0.
Teller had a no-hitter going until the seventh inning where he gave up a two-run home run to Ted Burton putting the score at 3-2.
Michigan couldn’t come back and score any more. Freshman left-handed pitcher Justin Sinibaldi came in to close the game and sealed the victory for the Knights. Owens said he was happy with how his team responded in the face of adversity.
"Winning a series is really difficult, and winning a series against a nationally-ranked team on the road requires us to play at a high level," Owens said. "This is a confidence builder for our program. We are getting better, the kids are working hard and we will build on this and move on to next week."
This Friday, Rutgers will look to continue its success on the road against Nebraska in a three-game series.
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