WILLIAMSBURG, VA - Despite just one outdoor practice prior to its season opener, the Rutgers baseball team banged out 18 hits en route to an 18-12 win over William & Mary (2-1) today at Pulmeri Park. Junior Rich Canuso (Monroe, NJ), playing his first game since March 8 of last season, finished with three hits and drove in five runs, highlighted by a three-run home run and a two-run double, to pace the offense. Redshirt freshman Steve Healing (Brick, NJ) earned the win in his collegiate debut, allowing just one run in 3.1 innings of relief.
Today's game pitted RU ace Jack Egbert (Rutherford, NJ) against W&M's top starter Chris Shaver, but in the fifth, both pitchers were out of the game with double-digit runs on each side. By the time the final out was recorded, RU had set a record for most runs in a season opener, besting a 17-6 win over Villanova in 1963.
RU got on the board with a two-run home run by Jeff Frazier (Toms River, NJ) in the first inning, but W&M tied the game with single runs in the first and second. The Scarlet Knights, however, reclaimed the lead with five runs in the third and eight more in the fourth.
Jeff Grose (Iselin, NJ) reached on a bunt single to open the third and scampered around to third on an errant throw. After a walk to Frazier, Canuso launched a three-run home run to deep right-center, giving RU a 5-2 lead. With runners on second and third following a double by Dave Williams (Franklin, NJ), nine-spot hitter Mike Bionde (Pequannock, NJ) stung a two-run single to center, extending the lead to 7-2.
William and Mary closed the gap to 7-4 with a pair of runs in the third, but RU added eight more in the fourth, highlighted by a two-run double from Canuso, a three-run home run from Graig Badger (Union, NJ), who also doubled to open the inning, and run-scoring singles from Frazier, Colin Gaynor (Toms River, NJ) and Bionde.
W&M proved resilient, scoring six unanswered runs in the fourth and fifth innings, cutting the lead to 15-10. After reaching Egbert for a pair in the fourth, the Tribe added four in the fifth, chasing Egbert from the game. After touching Aaron Kalb (Middletown, NJ) for three hits in just 1/3 of an inning, Healing stopped the bleeding by inducing a groundout with two runners on base.
Rutgers then tacked on three more insurance runs in the seventh, when Cory Rodriguez (Bridgewater, NJ) roped a two-out, two-run triple to centerfield, scoring Bionde (walk) and Badger (hit by pitch). Rodriguez then raced home on a wild pitch to increase the lead to 18-10.
"We swung the bats well today, but I am a bit disappointed in our defense," said head coach Fred Hill. "We came out very aggressive at the plate today and got the relief pitching we needed from Healing and (OJ) DeChristofano."
Frazier was 3-for-3 with three RBI and four runs scored, reaching base in all six plate appearances. Bionde (3-for-4) and Badger (2-for-5, double, HR) also drove in three apiece. Healing (1-0) allowed just one hit and one run in 3.1 innings of work to pick up his first collegiate win. Egbert (4.1 IP, 10 H, 6 ER) did not pitch the minimum 5.0 innings to register a decision.