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Rutgers baseball sweeps Houston Baptist in opening series

Sophomore infielder Tony Santa Maria and the Rutgers baseball team started their season off with three wins, sweeping Houston Baptist this weekend.  – Photo by Thomas Shea /

On Sunday, the Rutgers baseball team finished its opening weekend series against Houston Baptist. The Scarlet Knights (3-0, 0-0) took all three games against the Huskies (0-3, 0-0) due to the team's strong offensive performance.

Rutgers started its series on Friday, winning 4-0. The game started well for the Knights as they put up one run in the top of the first thanks to a throwing error by Houston Baptist that led to sophomore outfielder Ryan Lasko crossing the plate.

Rutgers added another run in the top of the fourth when sophomore infielder Tony Santa Maria grounded out to score junior catcher Nick Cimillo. The Knights would double their lead in the top of the fifth on a Lasko double that drove in a runner before a Cimillo double that drove in Lasko.

That was all the runs Rutgers would need as it pitched a shutout led by four hitless innings from sophomore pitcher Brian Fitzpatrick. The last time the Knights started their season with a shutout was in 1978

“We got a good start from (Fitzpatrick), he controlled the game very well and had a bunch of strikeouts,” said head coach Steve Owens after the win.

On Saturday, Rutgers’ bats came alive in an 18-3 victory. The Huskies took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first before the Knights responded with three runs in the top of the third to take a 3-2 lead. 

Rutgers led 4-3 before exploding for 10 runs in the top of the sixth inning. From there, the Knights would not look back, bringing in four runs in the final three innings to defeat Houston Baptist.

Junior outfielder Richie Schiekofer led Rutgers with five hits, and junior infielder Chris Brito also chipped in with three hits and four runs batted in (RBI). On the mound, graduate student pitcher Jared Kollar got his first start for the Knights, and freshman pitcher Wyatt Parliament threw two scoreless frames in his college debut. Rutgers had 21 hits and 12 walks in the victory.

On Sunday, the Knights completed the sweep with a 10-5 victory over the Huskies. 

After the third inning, the score was tied 1-1 but in the top of the fourth, Rutgers put up three runs on three hits to take a 4-1 lead. After the fourth inning, the Knights scored in every inning but the ninth and expanded their lead to five runs by the end of the game. 

Schiekofer had two hits and one RBI on the day, and Santa Maria had another excellent day with three hits and four RBIs. On the mound, sophomore pitcher Justin Sinibaldi got his first win of the season. Rutgers scored 32 runs over the weekend, and this is its first opening-series win since 2008.

The Knights will look to continue their hot streak when the program heads back down south to take part in the Carolinas Coastline Classic starting this Friday.

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

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