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Boilermakers march into Bainton: Rutgers baseball swept at home by Purdue

The Rutgers baseball team fell 1-5 in conference play this weekend with a poor showing at home against Purdue. – Photo by Christian Sanchez

The Rutgers baseball team did its best dirty floor impression back at Bainton Field on Livingston campus this weekend: getting swept 3-0 in a weekend series to Purdue. The Scarlet Knights (19-12, 1-5) traveled back in time to 2023 as their pitching demons returned to haunt them once more.

The Boilermakers (20-12, 5-4) trounced Rutgers with a combination of timely offense and dominant pitching, stunning the Knights in their second Big Ten series of the year.

Game 1: Rutgers loses 5-3 in extra innings

While Rutgers' recent offensive woes continued on Friday, the first game of the series witnessed an all-out pitching duel between senior left-handed pitcher Justin Sinibaldi and Purdue's Jordan Morales.

Eventually, Sinibaldi was the one to crack first, letting up a run in the sixth after a failed pick-off attempt helped move a Boilermaker around the bases. Sinibaldi would let up a second run in the seventh before getting pulled for junior left-handed pitcher Joe Mazza, ending an exceptional outing for the Knights' ace on the bump.

Morales toughed it out a little longer than Sinibaldi, completing his sixth and seventh innings with no runs allowed, reaching a whopping 106 pitches on the day.

With the iron claw of Morales lifted, senior infielder Cameron Love stepped up to the plate for Rutgers against Jackson Dannelley. Love battled with a 3-2 count before going deep to left field for his third home run of the season and closing the game's gap to 2-1.

Purdue added on a third run in the top of the ninth before the Knights entered crunch time, down 3-1 with one more chance to score.

Freshman infielder Ty Doucette started with a single to left. Then, graduate student outfielder Pete Durocher walked to set up a sacrifice bunt scenario for freshman catcher Jackson Natili. Natili successfully laid down the bunt, and the Boilermakers committed a throwing error. Rutgers scored a run on the bunt to go down one, then tied the game up courtesy of a run-scoring single from junior outfielder RJ Johnson Jr.

The Knights were then in prime position to snag a victory via their late-game rally but squandered the opportunity by hitting into an inning-ending double play, forcing extra innings.

The 10th inning is where pitching lost Rutgers the game. Graduate student right-handed pitcher Joey DeChiaro entered to keep the opposition at bay and did just the opposite, walking three batters to load the bases. Redshirt freshman left-handed pitcher Donovan Zsak entered to relieve DeChiaro, letting up two runs on a hit-by-pitch and a walk before getting two more outs to end the nightmare inning.

The Knights could not replicate their ninth-inning rally in the 10th, and DeChiaro was credited with the pitching loss.

Game 2: Rutgers loses 8-6

Saturday saw Rutgers slightly return to form, picking up its offensive output in a high-scoring battle.

The Knights jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead thanks to a string of hits from the usual suspects. Redshirt sophomore infielder Tony Santa Maria, sophomore outfielder Trevor Cohen, junior infielder Josh Kuroda-Grauer, Doucette and Natili all contributed to the early lead, with Natili homering to left field to get Rutgers its third run.

Changing sides, freshman right-handed pitcher and infielder Zack Konstantinovsky was given the nod after a flawless six-inning performance last weekend against Michigan State. Konstantinovsky threw two scoreless innings before giving up the Knights' lead in the top of the third and allowing Purdue to score three runs.

Rutgers pushed its lead back up to two in the fourth after Santa Maria blasted a two-run shot over the left-center wall, scoring graduate student outfielder Pete Ciuffreda. The Boilermakers struck right back and scored two off graduate student right-handed pitcher Jake Marshall.

Doucette broke the scoring seal on a sacrifice fly to give the Knights a 6-5 lead entering the eighth.

In the top of the ninth, Rutgers' pitching dropped the ball once again. Senior right-handed pitcher Ben Gorski entered an inning prior and handled business, but he couldn't close it out in the ninth. Gorski let up three hits to Purdue, including a three-run homer to give the Boilermakers an 8-6 lead. Gorski was later credited with the loss and now owns a 3-3 record on the season.

The Knights went scoreless in the bottom of the ninth and lost game two, along with the series, largely due to pitching struggles.

Game 3: Rutgers loses 5-3

The silver lining game for Rutgers went as poorly for the team as the two games prior. Purdue started the scoring on Sunday, picking up two runs off sophomore right-handed pitcher Christian Coppola.

The Knights failed to respond in the first, then brought the game within one after Durocher homered in the second.

The Boilermakers extended their lead in the fourth with a two-run double.

Rutgers finally responded when Santa Maria singled to score a run and cut the lead to two.

Kuroda-Grauer then hit a home run in the eighth to make the score 4-3 and put the Knights down just one run going into the final inning.

Purdue tacked on a security run in the ninth before Rutgers went scoreless in the final frame to close out the game and series with a 5-3 loss.

Through three games, the Knights were only out-hit 26 to 24 but could not find a single victory.

Rutgers will look to get back on track with a weekday matchup against Seton Hall on Tuesday at 4 p.m. The Knights will then host Nebraska for their second home series in a row. Game one against the Cornhuskers will take place on Friday at 6 p.m., game two on Saturday at 3 p.m. and the series finale on Sunday at noon.

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

To view more of Philip Jaccoma's work, follow @PJaccoma on X.

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