Rutgers baseball suffered a painful three game sweep to UConn on the road this weekend. The Scarlet Knights led in all three games, including two in the ninth inning. They lost two games on walk-off hits by the Huskies, including one in extra innings. You could view it that Rutgers went toe to toe with the best college baseball program in the Northeast and gave them all they could handle. It’s also fair to feel it was series full of missed opportunities that could end up costing RU if they find themselves once again on the NCAA Tournament bubble in May.
On Friday, the former Big East foes played a doubleheader with rain expected on Saturday.
In the afternoon game, Rutgers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the second inning before UConn responded with four runs in bottom half. However, the Scarlet Knights regained the lead with a three run eighth inning to lead 8-7 heading into the final frame. The Huskies loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth and tied the game on a groundout. Ultimately, the Big East champs won with a two out single in the 11th inning.
In the nightcap, Rutgers led 1-0 before surrendering four runs in the second inning for the second straight game. RU battled back to cut the deficit to one run on two different occasions. They were able to cut the UConn lead to 6-5 and load the bases with two outs in the top of the ninth inning. Howver, a groundout to third base ended the comeback bid.
On Sunday, the Scarlet Knights led 5-2 in the fifth inning before UConn slugged their way back into the game. They hit five home runs in the game including a walk-off three run blast with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to win 9-7.
One positive was that Rutgers star Ryan Lasko had the best series of the season after a slow start for the center fielder. He was 9 of 15 at the plate along with 5 RBI’s and 6 runs. Slugger Chris Brito also hit well going 5 of 10 with 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored after he is fighting back from his own slow start. RU needs both to hit well the rest of the way to lead the offense.
It was a bitter pill to swallow after Rutgers (12-11) battled UConn all weekend. That being said, bouncing back this week is a must. RU hosts NJIT on Wednesday before hosting Michigan State for the first Big Ten series of the season. Maryland and Michigan, the defending regular season and tournament champions from the conference follow in April.
There is plenty of season remaining and Rutgers had won nine of ten games entering the series against UConn. More consistency is needed, but this team has the potential to challenge for a Big Ten title. That journey begins this coming weekend.
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