SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. – Junior Matt Giannini (Millington, N.J.) pitched a complete-game and Rutgers got production throughout its lineup as the Scarlet Knights cruised to a 7-3 victory over Seton Hall in the BIG EAST Baseball series opener Friday evening at Owen T. Carroll Field.
The Scarlet Knights extended their winning streak to four games and improved to 17-21-1 overall and 7-9 in the conference, while the Pirates fell to 26-16 overall and 12-7 in the league with the loss.
Giannini scattered nine hits and struck out five in his second career complete game. He retired nine-straight at one point, spanning the fifth to the eighth innings en route to his third victory of the season.
Rutgers erased a 1-0 early deficit on consecutive pitches with two outs in the second when Jarred Jimenez (Monroe, N.J.) tripled down the right-field line and Luis Feliz (New Brunswick, N.J.) followed with a run-scoring, line-drive single to right field. Feliz stole second and scored on a Pat Biserta (Point Pleasant, N.J.) single to left field on the next play to give RU a 2-1 advantage.
A one-out walk from Dan Betteridge (Sewell, N.J.) in the third was followed with three-straight singles from Tom Edwards (West Caldwell, N.J.), Jon Gossard (Harrington Park, N.J.) and Jaren Matthews (Teaneck, N.J.) to score two runs. After intentionally walking Jimenez, to load the bases, Seton Hall went to its bullpen to replace starter Joe Dirocco with reliever Sean Black. Black's first batter, Feliz, took an 0-2 pitch to center field for a sacrifice fly to bring home Gossard and put the Scarlet Knights up, 5-1.
Seton Hall plated a run in the third on an RBI single deep in the hole on the left side from Matt Smedberg, but Giannini rebounded from the score with an inning-ending double play.
The Pirates pulled to within two runs at 5-3 with a one-out sacrifice fly and inning later, and threatened for more with runners on second and third and two outs but Giannini got out of the jam with a strikeout of Rusbarsky.
Biserta opened the eighth inning with a single and pinch runner Brandon Boykin (Teaneck, N.J.) moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt. A single to left field from Donny Callahan (Sparta, N.J.) then put runners on the corners where Betteridge perfectly-executed a safety squeeze to bring Boykin home from third with a sacrifice bunt back to the first baseman. Edwards then knocked home Callahan with a single through the left side to give the Scarlet Knights a 7-3 advantage.
Giannini made it stand, ending the game with five-straight scoreless innings, aided by a pair of spectacular diving catches from Feliz in center field. Dirocco fell to 3-2 with five runs on seven hits in 2.1 innings.
Eight of Rutgers' nine starters collected at least one hit in the Scarlet Knights' 13-hit attack.
The victory broke the tie in the all-time series as RU moves to 44-43-1 against the Pirates.
Rutgers and Seton Hall continue their series with a 6:00 p.m. game tomorrow at Owen T. Carroll Field. Junior righty Jason Downey (Ballston Lake, N.Y.) will be on the mound for the Scarlet Knights against junior lefty Corey Young for the Pirates.