Rutgers struck first, plating a single run in the second. Freshman Johnny Defendis (Staten Island, NY) singled up the middle on a 3-2 pitch and stole second with two outs. Steve Normane (Pt. Pleasant, NJ), plagued by a season-opening 0-for-14 streak, picked a perfect time to end it by singling to left-center and driving home Defendis. The lead was short-lived, however, as Erick San Pedro drilled a two-out, two-run double to give the Canes a 2-1 advantage in the bottom of the inning. The Scarlet Knights fought back and tied it at 2-2 when Graig Badger (Union, NJ) singled to open the third inning, moved to second on a groundout, stole third and scored on a groundout from Jeff Frazier (Toms River, NJ).
Miami then took a 3-2 lead in the fourth when Brian Barton reached on a two-out single, advanced to second on a balk and scored when Tom Shannon dumped a single into shallow right.
Miami put the game out of reach with a bizarre, eight-run sixth inning. Two crossed on a two-out, two-run single from Gaby Sanchez, who smacked a 1-2 pitch through the left side of the infield. After a pitching change, Aaron Kalb (Middletown, NJ) issued three-straight bases-loaded walks, allowing Miami to build an 8-2 lead. Following another pitching change, freshman Jim Jansen (Pascack Valley, NJ) balked home a run and yielded a two-run single to Adam Ricks, extending the lead to 11-2. When the dust settled, Miami sent 13 hitters to the plate and scored eight runs (all with two outs) on three hits, five walks, two hit batsmen and a balk. A foul popup induced by Sean Atchison (Florham Park, NJ) ended the inning.
Rutgers scored three in the seventh against UM reliever Brad Newman. Defendis hit Newman’s first offering of the inning over the fence in left-center for his first collegiate home run, while Mike Bionde (Pompton Plains, NJ) added an RBI single and Cory Rodriguez (Bridgewater, NJ) polished off the inning with an RBI double to right-center.
Leading by only six, 11-5, heading into the bottom of the seventh, the Canes scored two quickly, as Erick San Pedro singled and Paco Figueroa homered to left-center off RU reliever Erik Dial (Basking Ridge, NJ), making his first collegiate appearance. A third run came across when Colin Gaynor’s (Toms River, NJ) throw to second sailed into center field. Miami added another in the eighth on a solo home run from Matt Barket.
Jack Egbert (Rutherford, NJ) fell to 0-3, allowing seven hits and eight runs in 4.2 innings. Atchison was strong again in relief, pitching 1.1 shutout innings. RU banged out 10 hits – with eight different players hitting safely – led by Defendis, who was 2-for-4 with a home run and two runs scored, and Badger, who was 2-for-5 with two runs scored from the leadoff spot.
The two teams will meet again at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, the second of three games this weekend.