ATLANTA, Ga. – Rutgers came up just short in its bid for a series victory over No. 22 Georgia Tech as the Yellow Jackets broke a 3-3 tie with a run in the eighth and held off a Rutgers rally in the ninth for a 4-3 victory over the Scarlet Knights Saturday afternoon in front of a season-high 1,660 fans at Russ Chandler Stadium.
The Scarlet Knights (2-2), who earned a 10-6 victory in Friday's series opener, and Yellow Jackets (6-1) played each other tight with one-run game throughout on Saturday.
With the score tied at 3-3, sophomore Scarlet Knight hurler Casey Gaynor (Toms River, N,J.) faced the top of the Yellow Jackets' lineup in the bottom half of the eighth. Gaynor, who was sharp throughout, got a strikeout to open the frame before giving up a one-out single. Georgia Tech's Charlie Blackmon then took Gaynor's 2-1 offering down the right-field line for a triple to give the Yellow Jackets a 4-3 lead and the eventual game-winning score. Senior Matt Patterson (Passaic, N.J.) relieved Gaynor and held GT to just the one-run lead heading into the ninth. The Scarlet Knights' mounted a two-out rally in the ninth against reliever Andrew Robinson. Senior Vic Cegles (Phoenix, Ariz.) started it off with a single up the middle. A hard shot off the bat of junior Tom Edwards (West Caldwell, N.J.) was fielded at second but the throw to first was off, extending the Scarlet Knights' life and allowing pinch runner Joey Ianiero (Bloomsburg, Pa.) to come within 90 feet of tying the game. Cleanup hitter Jon Gossard (Harrington Park, N.J.) nearly tied it up hit with a hard line drive to right field, but the Yellow Jackets' hero on Saturday, Blackmon, sealed it for Georgia Tech with a diving catch.
Rutgers and Georgia Tech countered each other's scoring all game long with the Yellow Jackets drawing first blood. In the first, Georgia Tech's Jeff Rowland hit a high fly in the direction of first base and the combination of strong winds and bright sun made it hard to handle for freshman first baseman Jaren Matthews (Teaneck, N.J.) with the ball dropping in the infield and Rowland racing to second base for a rare infield double. Rowland came around to score the game's first run later in the frame.
Matthews erased the Scarlet Knights' early deficit with a solo home run to right field – his second in as many days – in the top of the second.
Blackmon put Georgia Tech back on top with a leadoff home run in the fourth to make it 2-1. The Scarlet Knights came right back with a run in the top of the fifth. Sophomore Brett Garlick (Livingston, N.J.) led off the frame with a single and stole second where Edwards drove him home three plays later with a two-out, line-drive single just over the second baseman's outstretch arms.
The Yellow Jackets countered in the bottom half of the inning when Jason Haniger homered with two outs in the frame to re-capture a one-run lead.
In similar fashion as their fifth inning, the Scarlet Knights used a leadoff single from Garlick (off newly-inserted Andrew Robinson) in the seventh and an opportunistic Edwards drove him home with a single through the right side two outs later to tie it up at 3-3 and set up the late-inning dramatics.
Gaynor (1-1) struck out a career-high nine batters in 7.1 innings for the Scarlet Knights, while giving up four runs on 10 hits in the hard-luck loss. Robinson (1-0) was credited with the win for Georgia Tech with three innings in relief of starter Eddie Burns, who had 10 strikeouts in six innings for the Yellow Jackets,
Edwards led the Scarlet Knights' with three of the team's eight hits on the day.
Rutgers and Georgia Tech will conclude their series with a 1:00 p.m. game on Sunday. Junior righty Matt Giannini (Millington, N.J.) will be on the mound for the Scarlet Knights against sophomore righty Zach Von Tersch for the Yellow Jackets.