The Rutgers University baseball team was victorious in their final weekend series of the 2011 season, besting West Virginia, 2-1, in Morgantown W.Va. from May 19 to May 21.
The two wins were not enough to earn Rutgers a spot in the Big East Tournament, as they would have needed to win all three games and receive help from losses by Seton Hall and South Florida.
The Scarlet Knights (20-30, 11-16) kicked off the series with a 6-4 win on Thursday, May 19 behind another solid outing from starting pitcher Tyler Gebler.
Gebler did not allow a hit until the fourth inning and allowed only eight hits total, with three strikeouts and three earned runs in seven and one third innings of work.
Gebler received plenty of run support from the Rutgers lineup and was pitching with the lead for almost the entire game. The Rutgers bats came out in the second inning where RBI singles from second baseman Nick Favatella and third baseman DJ Anderson put the Knights up 4-0 early.
Each team pushed across a few more runs and the score was 6-3 heading into the bottom of the ninth with Rutgers reliever Rob Corsi on the mound. West Virginia loaded the bases against Corsi and then pushed across one run before the Knights called on closer Jerry Elsing to end the game.
Elsing was immediately charged with the daunting task of facing West Virginia’s Grant Buckner, the Big East’s leading hitter, with the bases loaded. The Rutgers closer responded to the challenge and struck out Buckner to end the game and seal the Rutgers win.
Gebler picked up the win to finish the season at 5-5 while the save was Elsing’s fourth of the year. Gebler finished the season with 103.1 innings pitched which is third all-time for Rutgers.
The Knights did their best to remain in the Big East hunt on Friday, May 20 and defeated West Virginia, 7-5, but it was not enough as wins by Seton Hall and South Florida eliminated the Knights.
Rutgers was led by senior Michael Lang’s four hits which put him into fifth place on the school’s all time list.
Rutgers held a 3-1 advantage after two innings behind an RBI single by designated hitter Russ Hopkins and an RBI triple by first baseman Bill Hoermann.
The Knights extended the lead to 7-2 in the sixth with a West Virginia error and RBI singles by Lang, Favatella, and catcher Jeff Melillo.
The Knights’ starter Rob Smorol let up a three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth to cut the advantage to 7-5, but the Knights bullpen took over from there for three perfect innings. Elsing came in for the ninth and recorded his second straight save to close out the Rutgers victory.
Smorol got the win and improved his record to 4-7, letting up five runs in six innings. Elsing recorded the save, his fifth of the year.
The Knights dropped the third game of the series, 14-5, in their final contest of the season. Rutgers starter Ryan Fasano lasted only one-and-a-third innings giving up five runs on six hits.
West Virginia had opened up a 10-0 lead by the third inning behind a Buckner grand slam. The Knights offense showed some life, but could never overcome the hole that their pitching dug them into.
Rutgers picked up a run in the fourth on an RBI double from freshman Brian O’Grady, two more in the fourth, and two in the ninth. The Knights still never came close to matching West Virginia’s 14 runs despite a three-hit day from Anderson.
Rutgers used six pitchers in the game including sophomore Sam Hasty who made his collegiate debut. The game was the last for the Knights’ four graduating seniors: Anderson, Lang, centerfielder Brandon Boykin, and left handed pitcher Sean Campbell.