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Rutgers Baseball wins both midweek games, UConn next



Photo credit Rutgers Athletics

Rutgers baseball won both of its midweek games to improve to 12-8 on the season. The Scarlet Knights defeated Rider (13-7) 4-2 on at Bainton Field on Tuesday followed by a 13-8 victory over Lafayette (3-17) on Wednesday.

After trailing 2-1 to Rider, Cameron Love hit the first home run of his career to tie the game in the seventh inning. RU then loaded the bases in the eighth highlighted by Evan Sleight’s double and Chris Brito being intentionally walked. With the count full, Hugh Pickney drew a walk that scored the game winning run. Danny Melnick drove in the insurance run on a groundout.

Starter Justin Sinibaldi went 5 1/3 innings allowing 2 runs on five hits while striking out six batters. The bullpen delivered 3 2/3 innings of scoreless and hitless relief. Grant Besser struck out three in 1 2/3 innings. Garrett French earned his first win of the season with a perfect eighth inning. Joe Mazza earned his first career save with perfect ninth inning of relief.

On Wednesday, Rutgers jumped out to leads of 7-0 through three innings and 13-3 through five innings. Lafayette was able to score five runs in the latter innings but the issue was never in doubt.

It was the back third of the lineup that did the most damage at the plate. Chris Brito was hitting seventh and took a step forward in getting on track after a slow start to the season. He was 2 of 4 with 2 RBI’s, a run and a walk. Andy Axelson hit a bases loaded single to get RU on the board and also finished 2 of 4 with 2 RBI’s, a run and a walk. Promising freshman Maximus Martin’s first hit of his career was a 2 run homer that gave the Scarlet Knights a 4-0 lead. Martin was 2 of 4 with 3 RBI’s, a run and a walk.

Sam Portnoy earned his first win of the season with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless and hitless relief.

Rutgers has now won nine of its last ten games after starting the season 3-7. Both wins this week followed an impressive 6-1 road trip in the state of Georgia during spring break.

The Scarlet Knights will face UConn for a huge three game series in Storrs this weekend. Due to inclement weather expected on Saturday, they’ll play a Doubleheader on Friday followed by one game on Sunday.

The Huskies are off to a 13-5 start and are the premier baseball program in the northeast. Last season, UConn won a program record 50 games, won both the Big East regular season and tournament titles and advanced to a Super Regional as one of the last 16 teams remaining. It was also their fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance. Entering this week, UConn is ranked No. 26 nationally by Collegiate Baseball and they are receiving votes in the coaches poll.

The former Big East foes first played in 1946 and RU owns a 34-31 edge in the all-time series. They last met in 2014.

This weekend is a tremendous opportunity for Rutgers to make a statement. Credit head coach Steve Owens for scheduling a series with UConn. It’s the last non-conference series before Big Ten play begins. While it’s been a bit of a up and down start, the Scarlet Knights have been on a roll. With the schedule now ramping up, RU will look to elevate their own play.


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  1. pj43

    March 23, 2023 at 5:34 pm

    The series with UCONN is a nice lead into the Big Ten season. I’m assuming that a good showing is a positive as far as strength of schedule come NCAA Tournament time

    • Biochemist01

      March 24, 2023 at 5:51 pm

      Yes – UConn is currently 13-5 and #32 in RPI. Rutgers is #17 in RPI.

  2. Biochemist01

    March 24, 2023 at 5:53 pm

    The team is playing well right now. They did really well on the Georgia road trip and then got the job done against Rider and Lafayette.

  3. Biochemist01

    March 24, 2023 at 11:40 pm

    Aaron, as an aside (and I am not an editor) I found the title of this article very confusing. Of course, that may just be me. Maybe a comma after “games” would help.

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