GREENVILLE, N.C. (March 18, 2011) – The Rutgers baseball team dropped a heart-breaking 3-2 decision to East Carolina in 11 innings in the series opener in front of 2,909 fans at Clark-LeClair Stadium Friday night.
Rutgers (7-9) took a 2-0 early lead before East Carolina (14-4) scored single runs in the seventh and with two outs in the ninth inning before plating the game-winning run in the 11th.
The Scarlet Knights put their first two runners on in the second thanks to a single from D.J. Anderson (Randolph, N.J.) and a catcher’s interference call during Russ Hopkins’ (Piscataway, N.J.) at-bat. Sophomore Bill Hoermann (Toms River, N.J.) sacrificed both runners into scoring position and fellow sophomore Jeff Melillo (Annandale, N.J.) followed with a sacrifice fly to bring the first run home. Junior Dan Perrine (Scotch Plains, N.J.) tripled to the gap in right-center field to drive in Hopkins and give RU the two-score advantage.
Meanwhile, starter Tyler Gebler (Toms River, N.J.) had a strong outing with six scoreless frames. He did not allow a runner past first base through the first three innings. The sophomore, who struck out five and did record a walk, surrendered his lone run in the seventh.
Chase McDonald led off the seventh with an infield single and the Pirates went to their bench to bring in pinch runner Philip Clark. He swiped second and was sacrificed over to third where a sac fly brought him home for ECU’s first run of the contest to make it 2-1.
With the one-run lead, Gebler handed the ball over to Rob Corsi (Oceanport, N.J.) in the eighth. The sophomore reliever retired the side in order before handing the ball over to fellow sophomore Jerry Elsing (Montville, N.J.) in the ninth.
Elsing came out strong in the ninth with two quick strikeouts and worked a 2-2 count to East Carolina’s Ben Fultz. The Scarlet Knights were one strike away from the victory when Fultz lifted a ball over the right-field fence for a game-tying home run to force extra innings.
A pair of errors allowed ECU to put a pair of runners in scoring position with two outs in the 11th against reliever Joe Esposito (Metuchen, N.J.) and Chris Gosik singled back to the pitcher to bring home the game-winning run for the Pirates for the come-from-behind victory.
Seth Maness worked 10 innings with seven strikeouts and one earned run allowed in the start for East Carolina. Brad Mincey (4-0) picked up the win with an inning of scoreless relief in the 11th. Esposito (0-1), who entered with two outs in the 10th, struck out two in an inning of relief but was charged with the loss.
Rutgers and East Carolina will continue the series with a 3 p.m. game Saturday. Sophomore lefty Rob Smorol (Clark, N.J.) will be on the mound for the Scarlet Knights against junior righty Mike Wright for the Pirates.