MIAMI, Fla. – The Rutgers baseball team used timely hitting and heads-up base running to earn a 5-4 victory over No. 12 Miami in game two and earn a split with the Hurricanes in a tightly-contested seven-inning doubleheader Saturday in front of 2,803 fans at Alex Rodriguez Park. The Scarlet Knights dropped a 4-2 decision to the Hurricanes in the afternoon’s first game. The win was the first of the season for RU (1-2), which handed UM (2-1) its first loss of the 2009 campaign.
Tied at 4-4, sophomore Brandon Boykin (Teaneck, N.J.) collected his first collegiate hit with a single to center field to open the seventh and final inning. Sophomore Michael Lang (Dumont, N.J.) executed a sacrifice bunt which allowed Boykin, who was moving on the pitch, to move all the way over to third. An alert Boykin noticed the fielders weren’t covering the base so the Scarlet Knight headed for home plate and scored the game-winning run to ignite a celebration in the RU dugout and put a state of shock on the faces of everyone in attendance.
Senior Tony Wargo (New Providence, N.J.) then held off the Hurricanes in the bottom of the frame for the win. After surrendering a leadoff double and a walk, Wargo fielded a bunt and alertly fired to third to get the lead runner for the first out. The Hurricanes got a runner 90-feet away from home plate and the tying score later in the inning but Wargo got Scott Lawson to pop up to third base to end the game.
The Scarlet Knights and Hurricanes played a tight-game throughout the contest with RU scoring the first run of the contest.
Sophomore Jaren Matthews (Teaneck, N.J.) gave Rutgers the early lead with an RBI single to right field in the first inning to score Lang.
Miami responded with a run of its own in the opening frame to tie it back up.
Junior Jarred Jimenez (Monroe, N.J.) but the Scarlet Knights back on top with a towering home run to left field one inning later.
Freshman Charlie Law (Mainland, N.J.), making his first collegiate appearance, ran into trouble in the second, loading the bases with just one out, but the true freshman induced an inning-ending double-play to get out of the frame unscathed.
Like he did in the first, Lang capitalized on some Miami fielding miscues to race around the bases. The Scarlet Knight reached base on a fielding error by the third baseman (also reached on a fielding error in the first inning). A failed pickoff attempt resulted in two more Hurricane errors and put Lang on third base where he scored one play later to make it 3-1 in favor of the Scarlet Knights.
Miami got a run back in the third on a Dave DiNatale RBI single and the Hurricanes threatened for more with runners on second and third, but Law got a big strikeout to end the frame.
UM then tied it up in the fifth with an RBI single to right field from Iden Nazario off Scarlet Knight reliever Sean Peterson (Wall, N.J.). The Hurricanes once again threatened for more but Peterson induced a pair of foul outs and a groundout to end the inning.
A Dan Betteridge (Sewell, N.J.) walk and a Matthews single was followed by a Jayson Hernandez (Belmar, N.J.) sacrifice bunt to put the pair of Scarlet Knights in scoring position with just one out. Jimenez once again lifted a ball deep into the outfield. This time, the park held it in, but it was deep enough to bring home Betteridge on the sacrifice fly to give RU a one-run edge.
That lead didn’t last long as Miami’s Yasmani Grandal took the fourth pitch of his at-bat over the right-field fence in the sixth to tie it back up, setting up the final-inning dramatics.
Wargo earned the win with 1.1 innings of shutout relief, while Miami reliever Rene Guerra was tagged with the loss after giving up the run on two hits in the seventh. Law posted four strikeouts in four innings in his first career start.
In the day’s opening game, Miami erased a 2-1 deficit with three runs – all with two outs – in the sixth inning to take a 4-2 victory.
Down, 1-0 in the third, RU got both of its runs thanks to a two-run single to center field off the bat of DH Pat Biserta (Pt. Pleasant, N.J.) to score D.J. Anderson (Randolph, N.J.) and Boykin.
Miami responded with three hits in the sixth, including a pair of extra-base hits from DiNatale (double) and Nathan Melendres (triple) to score three runs off reliever Kevin Lillis (Fair Haven N.J.).
Lillis (0-1) suffered the loss, while Miami reliever Travis Miller (1-0) earned the win with an inning of scoreless relief in the sixth. Hurricane closer Kyle Bellamy struck out the side in the seventh to earn the save. Junior Dennis Hill (Hillsdale, N.J.) started the contest for the Scarlet Knights, working five strong innings with just one run on two hits and a strikeout in his first appearance since April 28, 2007. He missed last season after being struck in the head with a batted ball during preseason workouts.
The Scarlet Knights and Hurricanes will conclude their four-game series with a 1:00 p.m. game tomorrow at Alex Rodriguez Park. Junior righty Kyle Bradley (Howell, N.J.) will get the ball for RU in the contest.