TEANECK, NJ - With the offense averaging over 11 runs in its previous four games, it was the pitching staff that gave Rutgers its lift in today’s 3-1 win over Fairleigh Dicksinon University. Sophomore Aaron Kalb (Middletown, NJ), making his first collegiate start, allowed just one unearned run in 6.2 innings and senior lefty Sean Atchison (Florham Park, NJ) struck out all four hitters he faced to earn his second win in a game that was shortened to eight innings due to darkness. With the win, RU improves to 5-10 and extends its winning streak to three games, while FDU is now 1-9.
Rutgers and FDU took a scoreless game into the fifth, when FDU scored an unearned run to take a 1-0 lead. Pat Geroni, the 2002 NJCBA First Team All-State first baseman, opened with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. After a strikeout, he moved to third on a single and scored on an error by third baseman Vinny Esposito (Middletown, NJ).
Rutgers was running out of time, as FDU starter Brian Bunyon fired blanks through the first seven innings. He used a double play in the second to avoid a first and second, one out jam and left the bases loaded in the third. He stranded two more runners in the fifth and another in the seventh before the Scarlet Knights broke through.
Jeff Frazier (Toms River, NJ), who was 1-for-2 with two walks, opened with a single and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Esposito. Senior Matt Wolski (Hamilton, NJ) then singled to right, scoring Frazier to tie the game at 1-1. Wolski stole second and, after a flyout, came across with the go-ahead run on a triple by catcher Alberto Vasquez (Jersey City, NJ). Vasquez then scored on a single by Steve Normane (Pt. Pleasant, NJ).
Finally holding a lead, Atchison struck out the side in the eighth before the umpires called off the ninth and final inning of play.
Kalb allowed seven hits in 6.2 innings of work. He did not walk a batter and struck out five. He also retired the first seven hitters of the game. Other than the unearned run in the fourth, Kalb faced little resistance before tiring in the seventh, when he allowed a pair of singles before giving way to Atchison (2-0), who struck out the final four batters of the game to preserve the win and earn his first save of the season.
Wolski continued his white-hot hitting, finishing 4-for-4 with the game-tying RBI. He is now hitting .684 (13-for-19) in his last five games and .733 (11-for-15) in his last four, raising his season average to a team-best .431, a 125-point jump in the last five contests. Normane was 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Rutgers opens BIG EAST play this weekend, when it travels to Morgantown, WV for a three-game series with the Mountaineers. The two teams will meet in a doubleheader on Saturday, beginning at noon, and reconvene for a single game on Sunday, also at noon.