PISCATAWAY, N.J. (April 15, 2011) – The Rutgers baseball team captured an 3-2 series-opening victory in 11 innings over Cincinnati on a sacrifice fly from senior Brandon Boykin (Teaneck, N.J.) that plated junior Russ Hopkins (Piscataway, N.J.) for the game-winning score Friday afternoon at Bainton Field.
With the scored tied at 2-2 in the 11th, Rutgers (13-8, 5-5 BIG EAST) got a pair of singles through the left side from Hopkins and Jeff Melillo (Annandale, N.J.) and both runners were sacrificed over into scoring position on a well-executed bunt from Nick Favatella (Washington Twp., N.J.). An opportunistic Boykin took the first pitch he saw from reliever Brian Sand to deep right field. The right fielder corralled it but his throw home arrived way after Hopkins crossed the plate for the game-winning score, igniting a celebration in front of the Rutgers dugout.
Hopkins and Boykin were responsible for the first two runs of the game as well, contributing on a pair of scores in the fourth inning to give RU the early advantage. Hopkins reached on an error with one out in the frame and swiped second base to move into scoring position where he came around to score on a Favatella double down the right-field line. With two outs, Boykin drove Favatella home on a single to right field. Boykin was tagged out trying to reach second base on the play, but not before Favatella crossed home plate for the second run of the inning.
The Bearcats (17-15, 4-6 BIG EAST) countered two innings later with a pair of runs of their own as leadoff hitter Chris Peters and No. 2 hitter Jake Proctor each singled to open the frame and cleanup hitter Justin Riddell drove them both home two batters later with a double to the gap in right-center field.
Lost in the late-inning drama was a strong outing for both Rutgers starter Tyler Gebler (Toms River, N.J.) and Cincinnati starter Dan Jensen. Both starters went nine innings with Gebler posting three strikeouts and allowing a pair of runs on eight hits and Jensen recording eight strikeouts without an earned run allowed (two total) on seven hits on the day.
Gebler rebounded from the two-run sixth frame with a masterful final three innings. After giving up the two-run double, the sophomore retired the next 10 Cincinnati batters in order and allowed just one single the remainder of the contest.
Jensen was equally as impressive late, retiring the final six batters he faced in the contest.
With both starters out of the game as the game entered extra innings, Rutgers got another strong relief performance from Rob Corsi (Oceanport, N.J.). The sophomore retired the side in order in the 10th and got the first two out in the 11th. After surrendering a two-out single, the lefty picked off the Bearcat runner to end the frame to set up the 11th inning heroics for the Scarlet Knights.
Corsi improved to 3-1 with the win in relief, while Cincinnati reliever Cory Hugh (1-2) was tagged with the loss.
Rutgers and Cincinnati will continue the series tomorrow with an 11 a.m. game at Bainton Field. Sophomore lefty Rob Smorol (Clark, N.J.) will be on the mound for the Scarlet Knights against senior righty Nick Johnson for the Bearcats.