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Jordan Falco, Steve Owens speak after Rutgers baseball dominates in mid-week home games

Senior right-handed pitcher Ben Gorski started on the mound for the Rutgers baseball team against Lafayette, earning the win, throwing for three innings and allowing 1 run with three strikeouts – Photo by Christian Sanchez

The Rutgers baseball team cruised to two victories against Rider and Lafayette on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, at Bainton Field on Livingston campus. The Scarlet Knights (15-6, 0-0) continued their hot start to the season with an all-hands-on-deck 8-2 win against the Broncs (2-14, 0-0) and a commanding 18-6 victory over the Leopards (3-16, 0-0).

Game 1: 8-2 win over Rider

Junior right-handed pitcher Jordan Falco got the start on the bump for Rutgers and was able to pitch a scoreless first inning to begin the game.

In the bottom half of the opening frame, the Knights tacked on three runs after junior infielder Josh Kuroda-Grauer smacked a double down the left field line to score a run, followed by a two-run single from freshman infielder Ty Doucette.

Falco spoke on how Rutgers’ early lead gave him confidence on the mound.

“It always gives you a little leeway to make mistakes and kind of pound the zone a little bit more,” Falco said. “That definitely always helps and we’ve done a good job this year of doing that.”

Kuroda-Grauer and Doucette capitalized in the third inning with a solo homer and two-run homer, respectively. The Knights led 6-0 after the first three frames.

While Rider was able to score a pair of runs after some trouble for Rutgers, the Knights were able to get the two runs back in the sixth inning after sophomore outfielder Trevor Cohen and redshirt sophomore Tony Santa Maria drove in runs.

Graduate student right-handed pitcher Sonny Fauci would nail the door shut with scoreless eighth and ninth innings out of the bullpen to finish off the Broncs.

Falco earned his first win of the season after firing five innings while only allowing three hits, two walks and two unearned runs.

“I thought a lot was going well today,” Falco said. “I thought I had the zone, so that always works. And then one strikeout, so the fielders came to play which is always good and they always do.”

Game 2: 18-6 win over Lafayette

Rutgers, just like it has done in the past few weeks, exploded for double-digit runs at the plate against Lafayette.

After two innings, the Knights led 5-1. Santa Maria highlighted the second inning with a triple that brought home Cohen, who slapped a run-scoring single in his at-bat just before.

Rutgers scored six more runs in the third inning off of six hits. Cohen, Santa Maria and Kuroda-Grauer had back-to-back-to-back base knocks to score five of the runs and help give the Knights an 11-1 lead heading into the fourth inning. Rutgers would tally an additional three more runs in the fourth inning to give itself a 14-1 lead.

After the fourth scoreless frame on the mound, the Knights once again made an impact at the dish with four more runs in the fifth inning.

Graduate student outfielder Pete Ciuffreda and sophomore infielder Pablo Santos joined the hit party with a run-scoring single and bases-clearing triple, respectively. At the conclusion of the fifth inning, Rutgers held a lopsided 18-1 lead.

The Leopards scored five runs in the top of the sixth, but the Knights stopped the bleeding. With a run rule in effect, Rutgers won the game by 12 in seven innings.

"18 innings in the middle of the week after three games on the weekend and being on the road, you get a little short pitching wise," head coach Steve Owens said after Wednesday’s game. "(Senior right-handed pitcher Ben Gorski) and (redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Sam Portnoy) did a good job of throwing strikes and our offense did what it’s been doing, and we made some big plays."

Next up for the Knights will be a tough three-game home series against UConn. Game one is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Friday, game two is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday and game three is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sunday.

“That’s a really good team,” Owens said of the Huskies (8-11, 0-0). “So we have to pitch this weekend, and then our offense has to do what it’s been doing and I think we’ll have a good chance to win the series.”

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

To view more of Josh Meyers' work, follow @JoshCMeyers on X.

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