MIAMI (Feb. 16, 2014) – Rutgers baseball stranded the tying run at third base in the ninth inning, dropping the series finale to FIU, 5-4, Sunday at FIU Baseball Stadium. The Panthers took all four games in the series to start the college baseball season.
Redshirt freshman Kevin Baxter (Waterford, N.J.) put together an effective start on the mound in his collegiate debut, allowing no earned runs over five innings for RU. The right-hander scattered four hits, as two unearned runs came across during the outing.
Offensively, freshman Christian Campbell (Sayreville, N.J.) led Rutgers with four quality at bats in as many trips, recording two singles, a sacrifice fly and a hit by pitch. Senior Lou Clemente (Union, N.J.) also kept up his productively at the plate with a single and walk to raise his on-base percentage to .636 for the weekend.
Down 5-3 to start the ninth inning, the Scarlet Knights rallied to bring the tying run to third base. Junior Joe D’Annunzio (Scotch Plains, N.J.) lined a single to right field to lead off and senior Nick Favatella (Washington Township, N.J.) followed with a walk to force a call to the bullpen. Freshman Tom Marcinczyk (Middlesex, N.J.) next laid down a successful sacrifice bunt to move the runners up one base. D’Annunzio would then score on a groundout, with Favatella moving to third, but another groundout ended the threat and the game.
The Scarlet Knights did gain a 3-2 lead in the top of the seventh on a doubleplay with the bases loaded. Clemente singled, Favatella walked and Marcinczyk was hit by a pitch to start the frame, but a 4-6-3 twin killing limited the rally to just one run.
The Panthers immediately tied the score in the bottom of the inning on a single, walk, sacrifice bunt and RBI groundout. Then in the eighth, FIU used a double steal with runners at the corners to push ahead the go-ahead run, adding an insurance run on a two-out double. Rutgers tried to tie the game in the ninth, but fell short.
Marcinczyk (0-1) took the loss on the mound in one inning of work, with Mike Gomez (1-0) earning the win for FIU. Gunnar McNeill allowed just one of two inherited runners to score to pick up the save.
After returning home for the week for classes, Rutgers will return to Florida next weekend to start a series at Jacksonville Friday, Feb. 21. It will be a three-game series against the Dolphins.
Baxter became the 13th different Scarlet Knight to make his collegiate debut this weekend … redshirt freshman Max Herrmann (Rutherford, N.J.) made his second relief appearance in the series with a scoreless sixth inning … freshman Mike Carter (Bloomfield, N.J.) was the only RU player to record a hit in all four games of the series … Rutgers scored two of its runs on doubleplays with the bases loaded … junior Vinny Zarrillo (Forked River, N.J.) recorded an outfield assist in the third inning on a perfect throw to the plate from left field to end an inning … Favatella has now started the last 149 games consecutively dating back to his freshman season … the game lasted 3:07 and the game-time temperature was 75 degrees with sunshine.