The Scarlet Knights came out swinging in the top of the first. Two-spot hitter Matt Wolski (Hamilton, NJ) homered to deep left field to stake RU a 1-0 lead while Jeff Frazier (Toms River, NJ) and Rich Canuso (Monroe, NJ) singled to create another threat with two outs before a fly ball by Alberto Vasquez (Jersey City, NJ) fell a few feet short of the outfield wall to end the inning.
The Yellow Jackets stifled RU’s early-game momentum quickly, plating seven runs in the bottom of the inning. Mike Nickeas delivered two with a single to right and Davis Myers followed with a three-run home run to left to end the scoring.
Trailing 7-1, Rutgers struck for two in the third, highlighted by back-to-back RBI singles from Johnny Defendis (Staten Island, NY) and Nick Cerulo (Woodbridge, NJ). Tech added another of its own in the bottom of the frame to increase its lead to 8-3 and threatened for more, loading the bases with no outs against RU starter Jack Egbert (Rutherford, NJ). At that point, RU head coach Fred Hill called upon freshman Jeff Grose (Iselin, NJ), who struck out Brandon Boggs and induced a double-play flyout to Cerulo in center to end the threat and his dangerous initiation to college baseball. The Scarlet Knights fought back with another in the top of the fourth on a solo home run from Canuso, his second of the season.
Just as important as the scoring was the missed opportunities, as Rutgers left two runners on in the first, fifth and sixth innings and left the bases loaded in the second and third frames. Through six innings, Rutgers left 13 runners on base and failed to capitalize on several key chances.
Tech scraped across another in the fifth on a double from Jeremy Slayden and added two more in the sixth on a home run from Nickeas. Sean Atchison (Florham Park, NJ) and OJ DeChristofano (Pequannock, NJ) pitched a shutout seventh and eight inning, respectively.
“We swung the bats well and were very aggressive from the first pitch right through the end of the game,” said Hill. “The big first inning took some life out of us and we failed to drive in some runs early, which could have gotten us back into the ball game. This was the best offensive game we’ve had this year and now, we just need to get the hits at the right times.”
Egbert (0-2) allowed eight hits and eight runs in two innings, facing three batters in the third inning as well. Grose pitched a scoreless inning, while Aaron Kalb (Middletown, NJ) yielded three runs in three innings of work. Graig Badger (Union, NJ) and Wolski led the offensive attack with three hits apiece, while four others had two apiece.
The two teams will meet again at 12:00 noon on Saturday. RU will send Shaun Parker (Westampton, NJ) to the mound, while GA Tech will counter with Chris Goodman.