PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Junior pitcher Casey Gaynor (Toms River, N.J.) tossed a complete-game to earn the victory on his 22nd birthday as Rutgers cruised to a 5-2 victory over Connecticut in game one of a baseball doubleheader Friday at Bainton Field. The Scarlet Knights (13-19, 3-9 BIG EAST) dropped a 15-4 decision to the Huskies (17-15, 6-6 BIG EAST) in game two to take the three-game series.
Casey Gaynor struck out a season-high eight batters. (Tom Ciszek/NJSportsPhoto) PHOTO GALLERY
Rutgers got its first run of the game in the third thanks to hot-hitting leadoff man Michael Lang (Dumont, N.J.). The sophomore took Connecticut starter Elliott Glynn’s fifth offering of the inning over the left-field fence for his team-high fifth home run of the season. RU, however, wasn’t done in the frame, loading the bases on a Pat Biserta (Point Pleasant, N.J.) walk, a Dan Betteridge (Sewell, N.J.) single and a hit batsman. Junior Jayson Hernandez (Belmar, N.J.) took the first pitch of the at-bat to center field for a two-run single to score both Biserta and Betteridge and give RU a 3-0 lead.
Connecticut pulled within 3-2 with a run in the fourth and a score in the sixth as Huskie cleanup hitter George Springer scored a run and drove in another.
A leadoff single from Russ Hopkins (Piscataway, N.J.) was followed by errors on consecutive plays for UConn to lead to a run for the Scarlet Knights in the seventh as they built a two-run cushion at 4-2.
Sophomore Jaren Matthews (Teaneck, N.J.) took Connecticut reliever Dan Mahoney’s first pitch of the eighth well over the right-field fence for a line-drive home run to extend the lead to 5-2 where it ended thanks to a 1-2-3 ninth from Gaynor.
Gaynor’s dominant performance on the mound led to his first win of 2009, while Glynn was tagged with the loss with four runs (three earned) on six hits and a pair of strikeouts in 6.2 innings of work.
Rutgers’ bid for the doubleheader sweep and series victory fell short with the 15-4 loss in the second contest of the day. Rutgers starter Charlie Law (Mainland, N.J.) was forced out in the first inning after surrendering six runs on five hits. UConn’s Peter Fatse guided the big opening inning with a three-run home run over the right-field fence.
Connecticut starter Doug Jennings didn’t fare much better, running into a bases-loaded jam with two outs in the second. He delivered a wild pitch to allow the first score and then Lang extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a line-drive, two-run single to the gap in right-center field to cut the lead in half at 6-3. The big inning ended Jennings’ afternoon after 1.2 innings as Matt Barnes came on in relief to close out the second for the Huskies.
UConn got single runs in the third, fourth and fifth and used a five-run seventh, highlighted by a two-run home run from Springer, to surge out to a 14-3 advantage.
Rutgers and Connecticut traded runs in the ninth, with sophomore Brandon Boykin (Teaneck, N.J.) recording his first collegiate home run for the Scarlet Knights.
Law fell to 1-4 with the loss, while Barnes (3-1) got the win with 4.1 innings of scoreless relief.
The Scarlet Knights will return to action Tuesday when they travel to Bronx, N.Y. for a 4:00 p.m. game with Fordham.