PITTSBURGH, Pa. – The Rutgers baseball team used a five-run ninth-inning to rally from behind and take a 14-10 victory in a see-saw affair in game one of a Saturday afternoon doubleheader with Pittsburgh at Tress Field, before dropping an 8-6 decision in the night cap.
The Scarlet Knights (17-23, 4-12 BIG EAST) collected four home runs for the second straight game in game one, and added two more in the second contest. Junior Jarred Jimenez (Monroe, N.J.) led the slugfest with a pair of blasts on the day.
Rutgers jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the series opener thanks to an RBI double from Pat Biserta (Point Pleasant, N.J.) in the first and a solo home run from D.J. Anderson (Randolph, N.J.) – the first of his career – in the second.
The Panthers clawed right back, however, with a four-run second inning, using five hits and capitalizing on a pair of Scarlet Knight errors to capture a 4-2 lead.
Sophomore Michael Lang’s (Dumont, N.J.) seventh home run of the season in the fourth inning put RU within a run at 4-3, however Pitt countered with a pair of scores in the bottom half of the frame to extend its advantage to 6-3.
RU got both of those runs back with one swing of the bat in the top half of the fifth when Jimenezcleared the left-field fence for a two-run home run. The Scarlet Knights plated two more runs in the sixth to re-capture a 7-6 edge.
It was Pitt’s turn to strike in the see-saw affair and Chris Sedon delivered a two-run home run off newly-inserted reliever Billy Murphy (Cranford, N.J.) to put the Panthers back up, 8-7.
Rutgers answered right back with a two-run home run of its own, this one courtesy of Brandon Boykin (Teaneck, N.J.) in the top of the seventh to make it 9-8 in favor of the Scarlet Knights.
Cory Brownsten tied it up with a solo home run in the seventh and the Panthers took a 10-9 lead on a Kevan Smith RBI single in the eighth, setting up the Scarlet Knights’ ninth-inning rally.
Back-to-back one-out singles from Anderson and Boykin set up a big final frame for Rutgers that put RU up for good. Both Scarlet Knights moved into scoring position courtesy of reliever Nate Hood’s third balk of the game. Biserta then lifted a ball down the right-field line that the diving right fielder could not coral, allowing both runners to score as Rutgers re-captured the lead. The Scarlet Knights added some insurance runs on a well-executed sacrifice bunt from Dan Betteridge (Sewell, N.J.) and an infield throwing error to build a 14-10 advantage.
Closer Ryan Beard (Point Pleasant, N.J.) came in to shut the door on the Panthers with a scoreless bottom of the ninth to preserve the series-opening victory.
Senior Jason Downey (Ballston Lake, N.Y.) (1-0) earned the win with two innings of relief, while Hood (0-2) was tagged with the loss after giving up nine runs (five earned) in relief.
Rutgers rallied from a 2-0 deficit with three scores in the third inning of game two. The Scarlet Knights coupled singles from Boykin, Lang and Jaren Matthews (Teaneck, N.J.) with a pair of Pitt errors in the frame to take a 3-2 lead.
RU and Pitt traded runs in the fifth to make it 4-3 with the Scarlet Knights getting their score courtesy of a Russ Hopkins (Piscataway, N.J.) home run.
Rutgers starter Casey Gaynor (Toms River, N.J.) gave up a two-run home run to Frank Mercurio in the fifth and was chased out of the game after surrendering a third hit in the frame. The Panthers plated two more runs in the inning off reliever Kyle Bradley (Howell, N.J.) to surge out to a 7-4 advantage.
After a run in the seventh put Pitt up 8-4, Rutgers mounted an eighth-inning rally. A two-run home run from Jimenez – his second of the afternoon – made it 8-6 and a double from Luis Feliz (New Brunswick, N.J.) chased Pittsburgh starter Corey Baker out of the contest with one out in the frame. The Scarlet Knights’ threatened for more off newly-inserted Matt Iannazzo when Russ Hopkins’ grounder to third was scooped up but a wild throw pulled the first baseman off the bag and put runners on the corners for the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers went to its bench against the lefty Iannazzo for righty-hitting pinch hitter Jayson Hernandez (Belmar, N.J.) and the Scarlet Knight hit a ball back to the mound. Iannazzo corralled it and started a 1-6-3, inning-ending double play to prevent any further damage. He later retired the Scarlet Knights in order in the ninth to preserve the win for the Panthers.
Gaynor (1-7) struck out five, but surrendered six earned runs (seven total) in 4.2 innings in the loss, while Baker (6-2) hurled 7.1 innings with five strikeouts and five earned runs (six total) in the win. Iannazzo’s 1.2 innings of scoreless relief earned him his first save of the season.
Feliz led the Scarlet Knights with five of RU’s 27 hits on the day.
The Scarlet Knights and Panthers will close their series with a noon game Sunday. Junior lefty Dennis Hill (Hillsdale, N.J.) will be on the mound for the Scarlet Knights against sophomore righty David Kaye for the Panthers.