PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Seton Hall escaped with a 14-10 victory over the Rutgers baseball team on a Chris Affinito eighth-inning grand slam in a Sunday slugfest at Bainton Field in Piscataway. The win gave SHU (23-22, 12-12 BIG EAST) its first series victory over RU (20-30, 6-18 BIG EAST) in three years.
Unlike the first two games of the series, Sunday’s contest included 12 combined runs in the first two innings as neither starter completed a second frame. The Pirates chased Rutgers starter Charlie Law (Mainland, N.J.) out of the game with seven runs in the first two frames, while the Scarlet Knights ended Seton Hall starter Joe DiRocco’s afternoon after 1.2 innings with five runs in the first two frames. A four-run outburst for RU in the second inning was highlighted by a bases-clearing double from Michael Lang (Dumont, N.J.).
Down 7-5, RU continued to chip away at the lead with a run in the third as Jaren Matthews (Teaneck, N.J.) opened the frame with a double, was sacrificed over and scored on a fly out from D.J. Anderson (Randolph, N.J.).
The Scarlet Knights then took the lead in the sixth, countering a score from SHU in the top half of the inning with a three-run bottom half of the inning to make it 10-9. RU put a pair of runners in scoring position on a leadoff walk from redshirt freshman Nick Gaeta (Montville, N.J.) and a double down the left-field line from sophomore Brandon Boykin (Teaneck, N.J.). Lang got the first run home on an infield hit down the left-field line. The Scarlet Knights then loaded the bases on a Pat Biserta (Point Pleasant, N.J.) walk where Dan Betteridge (Sewell, N.J.) plated Boykin with a sacrifice fly to center field off newly-inserted reliever Matt Singer. RU then capped the scoring and took a one-run lead on a Jarred Jimenez (Monroe, N.J.) bases-loadedgrounder to third base. The third baseman tagged the base but his throw to second base on a double play attempt was wild as Lang crossed home for the go-ahead run. Rutgers tried to squeeze in another run on the error as Matthews headed for home on the play, but the Pirate first baseman corralled the loose ball and fired home to tag the Scarlet Knight out at the plate.
Senior Tony Wargo (New Providence, N.J.), who came in for Law in the second, pitched a strong six innings of middle relief for RU. After Wargo surrendered a double to lead off the eighth, RU went to its bullpen for senior Jason Downey (Ballston Lake, N.J.). Two batters later, SHU loaded the bases and Rutgers went to its bullpen for the second time in the inning, this time bringing in Kevin Lillis (Fair Haven, N.J.). Affinito, Lillis’ first batter, took the Scarlet Knights’ second offering over the fence in left-center field for a grand slam as the Pirates re-captured the lead in the slugfest. Seton Hall, which sent 11 batters to the plate in the frame, added a fifth score to make it 14-10.
Singer held RU in check the final two innings to improve to 6-2 with four innings of relief with just one hit allowed. Downey (1-2) suffered the loss after putting the go-ahead run on in the eighth.
The Scarlet Knights collected 11 hits on the afternoon, including three apiece from Biserta and Boykin.
Rutgers will open a three-game series with Georgetown with a 3:00 p.m. game Thursday at Bainton Field in Piscataway.