CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 18, 2011) – Despite not training outdoors on an actual baseball field until this morning, the Rutgers baseball team fought No. 18 Miami tooth and nail for 11 innings before dropping a 2-1 decision to the Hurricanes in the 2011 season opener Friday night at Alex Rodriguez Park in Coral Gables, Fla.
After breaking the school-record for saves and earning Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America honors as the Scarlet Knights’ closer a season ago, sophomore Tyler Gebler (Toms River, N.J.) made his first collegiate start Friday and worked six strong innings. He did not surrender an earned run and gave up just three hits with a pair of strikeouts in his new role.
Rutgers (0-1) jumped on the board right away with their lone run coming in the first inning. Sophomore Steven Zavala (Randolph, N.J.) took a 0-1 pitch the opposite way to left field for a one-out double and RU’s best hitter a year ago, sophomore Steve Nyisztor (Toms River, N.J.), delivered Zavala home with a single.
Miami (1-0) came right back with a run of its own in the second to knot the game back up. UM’s David Villasuso drilled a ball to center field for a one-out double in the bottom half of the frame to set up the score. Zeke DeVoss was hit by a pitch later in the inning to give the Hurricanes two runners with two outs. An infield error then allowed both runners to advance two bases as Villasuso rounded third and came around to score on the play to tie the game up at 1-1.
The score remained that way for nine more innings as Gebler and Miami starter Bryan Radziewski recorded strong outings and got solid performances from their bullpen.
Sophomore Dan O’Neill (Garfield, N.J.) worked 3.1 strong innings of scoreless relief with two strikeouts for RU to help send it to extra innings. Fellow sophomore Jerry Elsing (Montville, N.J.) worked a scoreless 10th frame and struck out the first man he faced in the 11th to bring up DeVoss with one out.
DeVoss connected on a ball down the left-field line for a triple to put the go-ahead run 90-feet away. Stephen Perez then lifted a fly ball to foul territory deep in left field where the left-fielder Zavala made the catch and quickly fired home. DeVoss raced home after the ball was caught and beat the throw to the plate to score the game-winning run in a wild season opener for both teams.
Elsing (0-1) suffered the loss in 1.1 innings of relief while Miami reliever Sam Robinson (1-0) registered the victory with one inning of scoreless relief in the 11th.
Radziewski’s strong outing for Miami included eight strikeouts in six innings of one-run ball on just three hits for the UM freshman in the no-decision.
Nyisztor led the Scarlet Knights with two of Rutgers’ five hits in the contest.
Rutgers and Miami will continue the series tomorrow with another 7 p.m. contest as sophomore lefty Rob Smorol (Clark, N.J.) makes his first collegiate start for the Scarlet Knights against sophomore righty E.J. Encinosa for the Hurricanes.