PISCATAWAY, N.J. – The Rutgers baseball team returns south this weekend for a three-game series with No. 22 Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Ga. The Scarlet Knights and Yellow Jackets will open the series on Friday at 4:00 p.m., followed by another 4:00 p.m. game on Saturday and a 1:00 p.m. contest on Sunday at Russ Chandler Stadium.
Rutgers earned a split in a Sunday doubleheader at previously-ranked Old Dominion last weekend in Norfolk, Va. The Scarlet Knights won the first game, 7-1, behind the dominant pitching of sophomore Casey Gaynor (Toms River, N.J.). The right-hander was named the BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week after posting eight strikeouts and giving up just three hits and one run in eight innings of work against the Monarchs.
Old Dominion earned the series tie with an 8-5 victory in the nightcap, holding off a ninth-inning challenge from the Scarlet Knights.
Sophomore Jarred Jimenez (Monroe, N.J.) went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles in his inaugural game as the Scarlet Knights' leadoff hitter in the season-opener. Senior catcher/designated hitter Jon Gossard (Harrington Park, N.J.) hit .375 with three RBI in the season's first two games against ODU.
The Scarlet Knights welcome back 2006 ace Steve Holt (Toms River, N.J.) this weekend. The senior righty, who is a year removed from Tommy John surgery, makes his 2008 debut in Friday's game against Georgia Tech. Gaynor will follow up his standout season-opening performance in game two on Saturday and junior righty Matt Giannini (Millington, N.J.) will get the ball for Sunday's series finale. Gianinni pitched into the fifth inning with a pair of strikeouts against Old Dominion last Sunday.
Georgia Tech is 5-0 with a three-game sweep of Youngstown State last weekend and a two-game sweep of Georgia Southern on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Yellow Jackets' pitching staff has allowed just three runs in five games with three shutouts. Georgia Tech is expected to pitch junior lefty David Duncan on Friday, junior righty Eddie Burns on Saturday and sophomore righty Zach Von Tersch on Sunday. Duncan and Burns did not give up a run in their lone appearances this season with Duncan working seven innings and Burns working six, respectively, against Youngstown State. Junior right fielder and first baseman Luke Murton is hitting .389 in the early going to lead the Yellow Jackets.
Rutgers and Georgia Tech played three memorable games last season with Rutgers winning one. Several members from each of last year's respective teams are not on its 2008 rosters. Seventeen players combined from the two school's rosters were selected in last June's Major League Baseball Draft. The lone Scarlet Knight draftee to return in 2008 is All-BIG EAST honoree Tom Edwards (West Caldwell, N.J.). Burns, Duncan and Murton were each selected in the MLB Draft but chose to return in 2008 for the Yellow Jackets.
In last year's series, Rutgers dropped an 18-12 Friday slugfest, that featured three grand slams and six combined home runs, and lost a hard-fought 10-8 game on Saturday, but re-grouped and pulled out 9-5 victory over then-No. 14 Georgia Tech on Sunday thanks to a late-inning home run from Tim Querns. Georgia Tech holds a 30-10 advantage in the all-time series.