PISCATAWAY, N.J. – The Rutgers baseball team dropped a 6-1 decision to Louisville in the series opener Friday afternoon at Bainton Field as Cardinal pitcher Justin Marks hurled a complete game in Louisville’s first ever game to Piscataway, N.J. Rutgers moved to 15-20 overall and 3-10 in the BIG EAST, while Louisville improved to 25-10 overall and 9-4 in the league.
Marks, the preseason BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year, scattered six hits and surrendered a run with seven strikeouts in the 117-pitch complete-game performance for the Cardinals to improve to 6-2. He retired the first seven batters of the game and didn’t give up a hit against the final nine batters of the contest.
Following a scoreless first for both teams, Louisville jumped on the board in the second inning with a pair of runs thanks to an RBI single from No. 8 hitter John Dao and an RBI fielder’s choice from No. 9 hitter Drew Haynes.
Rutgers starter Willie Beard (Spotswood, N.J.) rebounded from a pair of leadoff singles from Adam Duvall and Andrew Clark in the third to record his second strikeout of Cardinal preseason All-American Chris Dominguez. A catcher’s interference call on the next play loaded the bases, however, and Ryan Wright found a hole in the left side for an RBI single to make it 3-0. Beard induced an inning-ending double play on the next play to prevent any further damage in the frame.
Redshirt freshman Russ Hopkins (Piscataway, N.J.) got the first Scarlet Knight hit with one out in the third and stole second before Michael Lang (Dumont, N.J.) was hit by a pitch to put a pair of runners on with two outs. Designated hitter Pat Biserta (Point Pleasant, N.J.) took Marks’ 1-2 offering deep into the gap in left-center field and the ball bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double, scoring Hopkins. Lang was held at third, however, as a result of the ground-rule double and was stranded there after a fly out ended the frame.
Haynes drew a walk from a full count with one out in the fourth and stole second and third before coming around to score to make it 4-1.
The Scarlet Knights threatened to plate a run in the bottom half of the fourth but Jaren Matthews’ (Teaneck, N.J.) attempt to score from second on a fielder’s choice was thwarted by a close play at the plate. Junior Jarred Jimenez (Monroe, N.J.), who moved Matthews to second on a single earlier in the frame, collided with a Louisville fielder on the play and was forced to leave the game.
The Cardinals added runs in the fifth and ninth inning on RBI doubles from Wright and Phil Wunderlich, respectively.
Beard (2-3) worked 4.1 innings with three strikeouts, while allowing five runs on seven hits. Sophomore Billy Murphy (Cranford, N.J.) recorded his longest outing as a Scarlet Knight with 4.2 innings of relief, striking out three and surrendering a run on three hits.
Lang had his 14-game hitting streak come to an end Friday after finishing the day 0-for-3, but the sophomore still reached base after being hit in the third.
Rutgers and Louisville will continue the series Saturday with a 1:00 p.m. game at Bainton Field. Junior righty Casey Gaynor (Toms River, N.J.) will be on the mound for the Scarlet Knights against sophomore righty Thomas Royse for the Cardinals.