The Yellow Jackets struck first, scoring three runs in the bottom of the second on an RBI single by Clifton Remole and a two-run home run by Matt Murton, his third of the season. Rutgers was held scoreless in the first two frames, but plated two runs in the third to pull within one, 3-2. Nick Cerulo (Woodbridge, NJ) led off the inning with a walk and Lee Moskowitz (Edison, NJ) followed with a sun-aided single to left field. Mike Bionde (Pompton Plains, NJ) then moved the runners over with a sacrifice and Graig Badger (Union, NJ) drove Cerulo home with a groundout. With Matt Wolski (Hamilton, NJ) at the plate, Moskowitz scampered home on a wild pitch.
Tech added another in the fourth, extending its lead to 4-2, and pushed across another quickly in the fifth on a single by Eric Patterson, a pair of stolen bases, and a single to right by Steven Blackwood. Tom Malafronte (Somerville, NJ) then walked Jeremy Slayden and allowed a single to Matt Murton to load the bases and end his outing after just four-plus innings. RU reliever Sean Atchison (Florham Park, NJ) entered the game and faced a bases-loaded, no out jam. He calmly induced a popup for the first out, picked a runner off for the second out and forced Tyler Greene to flyout to end the inning without further damage.
Atchison’s work gained significance in the top of the sixth, when Rutgers opened the inning with a pair of singles from Vinny Esposito (Middletown, NJ) and Johnny Defendis (Staten Island, NY), putting runners on first and second with one out for Cerulo. Cerulo promptly tied the game with one swing, lining a three-run home run over the fence in right to knot the game at 5-5.
Trailing 7-5 in the ninth, pinch-hitter Cory Rodriguez (Bridgewater, NJ) gave Rutgers life with a leadoff double to right-center, but GA Tech reliever Aaron Walker regrouped to retire the next three hitters, although a flyball by Jeff Frazier (Toms River, NJ) fell just a few feet short on the right-field warning track to end the game.
Atchison (0-1) was the tough-luck loser, allowing just one run and one hit, a home run, in 3.1 innings of strong relief. Malafronte worked four-plus innings and allowed five runs on 10 hits. Esposito and Cerulo had two hits apiece to lead the eight-hit attack.
Rutgers will return to action on Friday, March 14, when it plays the first of three games with the Miami Hurricanes in Coral Gables, FL.