PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Sophomore Jaren Matthews (Teaneck, N.J.) broke a scoreless tie with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth in game one and freshman Charlie Law (Mainland, N.J.) posted 10 strikeouts to hold Cincinnati in check while Luis Feliz (New Brunswick, N.J.) put Rutgers ahead with a fifth-inning grand slam in game two as the Scarlet Knights swept a doubleheader from the Bearcats Saturday afternoon at Bainton Field. RU recorded a 2-0 victory in game one and took a 7-4 win game two.
Jaron Matthews watches his ball go over the wall for the win. (Tom Ciszek/NJSportsPhoto) PHOTO GALLERY
With the pair of victories, the Scarlet Knights won the series from the Bearcats, taking two out of three games. RU improved to 11-13 overall and 2-4 in the BIG EAST, while UC fell to 13-10 overall and 2-4 in the league.
Rutgers starter Casey Gaynor (Toms River, N.J.) and Cincinnati starter Michael Hill were locked in a classic pitcher’s duel in the first game with eight scoreless frames for each hurler.
Matthews, who was previously 0-for-8 in the series, provided the difference in the contest. The Scarlet Knight stepped to the plate with a man on second and two outs in the bottom of the ninth and took Hill’s second offering over the right-field fence to give Rutgers the 2-0 victory, igniting a celebration at home plate.
Each team threatened to score prior to the ninth-inning dramatics from Matthews, however dominant efforts from each team’s pitching staff held the scoreless tie in check until the final frame.
Gaynor tossed eight shutout innings, striking out seven. Cincinnati loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth with its power hitter – Mike Spina – at the plate, but the Scarlet Knight hurler ended the threat with his final strikeout, getting the Bearcat to swing through a 3-2 pitch to end the frame unscathed.
Gaynor handed the ball over to Billy Murphy (Cranford, N.J.) with a scoreless tie in the ninth and Cincinnati put runners on first and second with two outs. T.J. Jones singled to right field, sending the lead runner to the plate, but right fielder Michael Lang (Dumont, N.J.) corralled the ball and fired home where catcher Jayson Hernandez (Belmar, N.J.) applied the tag for the out to prevent the run and preserve the shutout.
Murphy (1-0) picked up his first collegiate victory with the ninth inning of scoreless relief. Hill (0-3), who worked the entire game for the Bearcats with eight strikeouts and two runs on five hits, was tagged with the loss after giving up the home run in the ninth.
A two-out RBI single from Lance Durham gave Cincinnati an early 1-0 lead in game two, but Law rebounded, retiring seven in a row and posting a pair of scoreless frames in the second and third.
The Bearcats capitalized on an infield error to push across a run in the top of the fourth, but the Scarlet Knights answered with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the frame to tie it up at 2-2. RU sandwiched doubles from Matthews and Jarred Jimenez (Monroe, N.J.) around a Hernandez single to plate both runs in the fourth.
Following a 1-2-3 inning that included a pair of strikeouts for Law in the top half of the fifth, Rutgers blew the game open with five runs in the bottom half of the frame. With a run already in, Feliz took newly-inserted reliever Andrew Burkett’s pitch over the fence in right-center field for a grand slam to give the Scarlet Knights a 7-2 advantage.
After surrendering an RBI double to Durham in the seventh, Law handed the ball over to reliever Kevin Lillis (Fair Haven, N.J.). Cincinnati got a second run in the frame on a wild pitch, but Lillis rebounded with an inning-ending strikeout.
Lillis worked 1.1 scoreless innings and then handed the ball to closer Ryan Beard (Point Pleasant, N.J.), who shut the door on the Bearcats with a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his sixth save of the season. Beard is now tied for sixth on the Rutgers single-season saves list, while his nine career saves are tied for seventh in the school’s career record book.
Law (1-2) became the second Scarlet Knight to record his first collegiate victory on the day. He struck out a career-best 10 batters and allowed just two earned runs (four total) on six hits in 6.2 innings. Cincinnati’s Tyler Smith (2-2) suffered the loss with five runs on eight hits in 4.1 innings.
Rutgers will travel to Staten Island, N.Y. to face Wagner Tuesday at 3:00 p.m.