CLEARWATER, Fla. (May 27, 2010) – The sixth-seeded Rutgers baseball team plated six runs in the first four innings to earn a 6-5 victory over second-seeded Connecticut and advance to the semifinal round of the BIG EAST Baseball Championship Thursday afternoon at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla.
The Scarlet Knights posted their 18th 30-win season under head coach Fred Hill, improving to 30-24 overall with RU’s sixth consecutive win in the BIG EAST Tournament, dating back to 2007.
The Scarlet Knights will have Friday off as they await an opponent in Saturday’s semifinal round. Connecticut and Pittsburgh will square off in an elimination game tomorrow with the winner facing RU on Saturday. Rutgers will advance to Sunday’s title game with a victory Saturday. The winner of the UConn-Pitt contest has to defeat Rutgers twice to eliminate the Scarlet Knights from the tournament.
UConn’s Mike Olt took the first pitch of the second inning over the left-field wall for a solo blast to give the Huskies an early 1-0 lead.
The Scarlet Knights got singles form Ryan Kapp (Toms River, N.J.) and Jayson Hernandez (Belmar, N.J.) to lead off the bottom half of the second and Jarred Jimenez (Monroe, N.J.) reached first base on am bunt attempt to advance both runners on a sacrifice as RU loaded the bases without recording an out. UConn starter Matt Barnes traded a run for a double play ball as Kapp came home to score on the play. With Hernandez now on third, junior Michael Lang (Dumont, N.J.) lifted a ball high in the air in short right field and the second baseman misplayed the ball, allowing the run to score as RU took a 2-1 advantage.
Freshman Steve Nyisztor (Toms River, N.J.) singled to lead off the bottom half of the third, stole second and scored on a Jaren Matthews (Teaneck, N.J.) RBI single to right field. Hernandez later plated Matthews on a single down the left-field line. RU then loaded the bases on a Jarred Jimenez (Monroe, N.J.) walk and Dan Betteridge (Sewell, N.J.) single and Lang worked a walk out of full count with two outs to score Hernandez for a third run in the frame as RU surged out to a 5-1 lead.
A pair of doubles from LJ Mazzilli and John Andreoli brought in a run for the Huskies in the fourth. They threatened for more with a deep fly ball in the left-center field gap off the bat of Pierre LePage but Jimenez, the center fielder, ran it down and made a spectacular diving catch to end the inning and save a run.
George Springer hit a dribbler in between the pitcher’s mound and first base to reach safely and Mike Nemeth followed with a two-run home run over the right-field fence to cut the RU lead to 6-4.
Rutgers threatened to extend its lead in the sixth with a man on second and two outs when Kapp lifted a ball to deep right-center field but Springer, the Huskies’ center fielder, made a leaping catch at the wall to end the inning.
UConn used a leadoff single and walk and sacrificed both runners over to put a pair of Huskies in scoring position in the top of the eighth. A LePage groundout to second base brought home a run but Roe induced an inning-ending pop out to first base to leave the tying run at third.
With the one-run lead, RU went to its freshman closer Tyler Gebler (Toms River, N.J.) and the righty delivered again. He posted a pair of strikeouts and later in the frame with the tying run 90-feet away and two outs, the freshman sealed it with his third strikeout of the frame against the heart of the Huskies’ order.
He extended his school-record save total with his 12th of the season.
Barnes (8-2) gave up six runs (five earned) on eight hits in three innings as RU handed him only his second loss of the season.
Rutgers starter Dennis Hill (Hillsdale, N.J.) worked into the fifth with a pair of strikeouts. Freshman reliever Rob Smorol (Clark, N.J.) earned the win with 2.1 innings of shutout relief that included a pair of strikeouts to improve to 5-1 on the season.
Nyisztor collected three hits in the contest to lead RU’s 12-hit attack.
RU avenged a sweep at the hands of UConn earlier this season in Storrs. Conn.
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