Tribe baseball dominated in its home opener at Plumeri Park Friday afternoon against Rutgers University, earning the 9-1 victory and improving their record to 1-3.
p. “We played our best game of the year,” Head Coach Frank Leoni said. “It was a combination of good pitching and good hitting.”
p. Sophomore first baseman Mike Sheridan and sophomore right fielder Ben Guez each hit 2-for-3 with an RBI, junior catcher Tim Park batted 2-for-5, and senior second baseman Brent McWhorter gained his first home run of the season in the bottom of the eighth. Defensively, the team shut out Rutgers until the top of the ninth. Junior pitcher Sean Grieve earned the win, working five scoreless innings, and senior Warrick Staines and junior Pete Vernon provided sound relief in the final three innings.
p. “Grieve was able to pitch in and out of trouble, which was the key to the game,” Leoni said.
p. In the second game of the series against the Scarlet Knights Saturday, the Tribe was defeated 8-15. Junior starting pitcher Jimmy Drury took the loss and Rutgers pitcher Casey Gaynor earned the win. Offensively, senior third baseman Greg Sexton went 4-for-4 with a home run, three RBIs and two runs, while McWhorter went 3-for-4 with two RBI and a walk. Sophomore Jeff Wera hit a home run and Sheridan recorded three runs. Park, junior left fielder Greg Maliniak, freshman pinch hitter Chris Jensen and junior designated hitter Aaron Hurwitz all registered hits.
p. The final game of the series was an intensely close contest, with Rutgers ultimately earning the 9-8 win. The Tribe out-hit Rutgers 14-12 and seemed to have sealed the win with a 5-0 lead in the fourth, but Rutgers held on, bringing in six runs in the next two innings.
p. “It’s the toughest loss I’ve suffered so far as head coach here,” Leoni said. “We let it get away, but it will act as a good learning experience.”
p. A sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth gave Rutgers the advantage, breaking the 8-8 tie. Tribe freshman starter Kevin Landry performed solidly through four innings, taking relief from Staines, junior Pat Kantakevich and Vernon, with Vernon taking the loss. McWhorter hit 3-for-5 with one RBI and one run, and Sexton shined with a stellar performance, hitting for the cycle (earning a single, double, triple and home run), scoring three runs and driving in four more.
p. “This is a unique accomplishment in baseball, and it should be recognized,” Leoni said.
p. The Tribe will travel to no. 4-ranked University of Virginia today and host the University of Maryland-Baltimore County for a series this weekend.