CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 20, 2010) – Down, 10-3 entering the eighth, the Rutgers baseball team rallied for five runs in the frame but could not close the gap anymore in a 10-8 loss to No. 12 Miami Saturday night in front of 3,135 fans at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field in Coral Gables, Fla.
Rutgers (0-2) jumped out to an early lead on Miami (2-0) with a run in the fourth. Senior Jayson Hernandez (Belmar, N.J.) found a hole through the right-side for a one-out single and moved into scoring position on a groundout where junior Brandon Boykin (Teaneck, N.J.) brought him home with a two-out single back up the middle.
RU senior starter Dennis Hill (Hillsdale, N.J.) cruised through the first three innings but ran into trouble in the fourth frame. Last night’s star for Miami, Harold Martinez, drew a leadoff walk and moved over the second on a balk. Chris Pelaez found the gap in right-center field to plate Martinez with a double. The Hurricanes then took the lead with some small ball as Pelaez was sacrificed over to third and Nathan Melendres laid down a squeeze bunt to bring him home and give UM a 2-1 advantage.
The Scarlet Knights re-captured the lead on one swing the next inning. Reliever Eric Whaley, who replaced starter Chris Hernandez to start the fifth for the Hurricanes, hit Jarred Jimenez (Monroe, N.J.) in the hand to put the Scarlet Knight on with two outs. Junior Pat Biserta (Pt. Pleasant, N.J.) made Whaley pay for his mistake with a two-out, two-run home run that easily cleared the right-field fence landing in the parking deck beyond the field.
In the bottom half of the inning, Miami’s David Villasuso followed a Scott Lawson single two batters later with a single through the left side to tie the game and chase Hill out of the contest. Reliever Nathaniel Roe (Plainfield, N.J.) came in to make his Scarlet Knight debut and the sophomore transfer’s second batter, Pelaez, collected his second RBI of the contest with a single to right-center field to make it 4-3 as UM countered with two runs of its own.
The Hurricanes opened up a 10-3 lead with a five-run sixth inning and a single run in the seventh off a trio of RU relievers.
The Scarlet Knights’ mounted a comeback with five runs of their own in the eighth. RU loaded the bases without recording an out and pinch-hitter Charlie Law (Mainland, N.J.) drew a walk to bring the first run home. Senior Dan Betteridge (Sewell, N.J.) brought home two runs on a single to right field with a fourth run coming home on a fielding error on the play. A Jaren Matthews (Teaneck, N.J.) sacrifice fly brought home the final run of the frame to make it 10-8.
However, the Scarlet Knights could not cut into the lead anymore as Miami went to its closer to halt the scoring barrage.
Hill struck out seven in 4.1 innings in the loss for RU, while Whaley struck out three in two relief innings to record the win after starter Chris Hernandez was pulled after four innings of work. UM closer David Gutierrez got the save after striking out the side in the ninth.
True freshman Rob Smorol (Clark, N.J.) made his collegiate debut on the mound (pinch ran in the season opener) for RU in Saturday’s contest. Fellow true freshman pitcher Tyler Gebler (Toms River, N.J.) also made his collegiate debut in the contest.
Rutgers and Miami will close the series tomorrow with a 1:00 p.m. game. Sophomore righty Willie Beard (Spotswood, N.J.) will be on the mound for the Scarlet Knights against senior righty Jason Santana for the Hurricanes.