Storrs, Conn. (April 23, 2010) – In a battle of BIG EAST baseball leaders, No. 19 Connecticut topped No. 21 Rutgers, 7-2, in Friday’s series opener at J.O. Christian Field in Storrs. Conn.
The defeat snaps the Scarlet Knights’ six-game winning streak and 18-game streak of five or more runs per contest. RU fell to 21-14 overall and 10-3 in the league, a game behind the Huskies’ 11-2 conference mark. Connecticut improved to 31-7 overall with its 19th-straight victory.
UConn jumped on the board first with a Mike Olt RBI single in the opening frame but the Scarlet Knights responded with a run in the second to tie it up. With sophomore Russ Hopkins (Piscataway, N.J.) – leadoff single– on third, junior Brandon Boykin (Teaneck, N.J.) laid down a bunt down the right-field line for the sacrifice to manufacture a run as Hopkins raced home on the play.
The Huskies broke the tie with a pair of runs in the third as Mike Nemeth followed a pair of one-out walks with a two-run double down the right-field line to make it 3-1. The Scarlet Knights went to their bullpen bringing in freshman Rob Smorol (Clark, N.J.) in relief of starter Jerry Elsing (Montville, N.J.) later in the frame.
An infield error put Hopkins on second to open the fourth and RU sacrificed him over to third where Dan Betteridge (Sewell, N.J.) got him home on an RBI groundout to second as the Scarlet Knights pulled within one run of the Huskies.
UConn extended its lead with a run in the bottom half of the fourth on Nemeth’s third RBI of the day to make it 4-2.
The Huskies loaded the bases with one out in the fifth but Smorol snuffed out any scoring opportunity inducing a groundout and posting an inning-ending strikeout to end the frame unscathed.
RU had a pair of Scarlet Knights in scoring position in the sixth but UConn starter Elliot Glynn got out of the jam with an inning-ending groundout.
Sophomore Nathaniel Roe (Plainfield, N.J.) came in on relief of Smorol for the final out of the sixth but ran into trouble in the seventh as the Huskies opened the frame with four-straight singles, capped by a two-run base hit back up the middle from Springer. UConn added a third run in the frame on Nemeth’s fourth RBI of the contest to extend its lead to 7-2.
Elsing (2-1) was dealt his first collegiate loss with 2.2 innings in the start, while Smorol didn’t allow an earned run in three innings of middle relief. Glynn improved to 4-2 with no earned runs allowed in seven innings of work.
Freshman Steve Nyisztor (Toms River, N.J.) and senior Jayson Hernandez (Belmar, N.J.) extended their impressive hitting streaks as Nyisztor collected two hits in the contest to extend his hitting streak to 17 games, while Hernandez had one hit to extend his to 16 games.
In a change from the original series schedule, Rutgers and Connecticut will play a doubleheader Saturday beginning at noon as rain is in the forecast for the area Sunday. Senior righty Casey Gaynor (Toms River, N.J.) will take the mound for the Scarlet Knights against junior lefty Greg Nappo for the Huskies in the first game, while RU freshman lefty Dan O’Neill (Garfield, N.J.) will face UConn sophomore righty Matt Barnes in the second game.