The Rutgers Scarlet Knights rallied for four runs in the eighth inning, scoring the winning run on a balk, for a come-from-behind 7-6 win over the Liberty Flames, Sunday afternoon at Worthington Stadium.
Rutgers moves to 5-10 on the season, while Liberty falls to 17-5 overall.
The two teams traded runs in the first inning. Jeff Grose, who led off the top half of the frame with a single, later scored from second base on a throwing error by the Flames' first baseman. Liberty countered in the bottom half of the inning with a run on three hits. Patrick Gaillard (Jr., SS, Taylors, S.C.) doubled to lead off the inning and scored on a single by Chad Miller (Sr., 3B, Wheat Ridge, Colo.).
Ryan Hill put the Scarlet Knights ahead, 2-1, in the fourth inning with his fifth home run of the season and in the fifth inning, the Scarlet Knights stretched their advantage to 3-1 on a RBI single to right by designated hitter Tom Edwards. Rutgers would later load the bases with one out, but could not bring home another runner in the inning.
In the sixth inning, the Flames capitalize on an error by the Scarlet Knight third baseman to score three two-out runs to surge ahead, 4-3. With two outs and Miller at first base due to the error, Phillip Laurent (Sr., LF, Cantrall, Ill.) found the left center field gap for a double to chase home the Liberty third baseman. Next batter, P.K. Keller (So., CF, St. Petersburg, Fla.) followed with a double over the centerfielder's head and off the wall to plate Laurent with the second Flames' run of the inning. Errol Hollinger (Fr., C, Upland, Calif.) then scored Keller with a RBI single to right field for the first Liberty lead of the afternoon.
In the seventh inning, the Flames extended their lead to 6-3 with two doubles and a triple. With one out, Gaillard doubled for the second time in the game and scored as Miller tripled off the wall in left center field. After a pitching change and a foul out, Aaron Grijalva (r-So., 1B, Redlands, Calif.) delivered Miller with a RBI double.
Rutgers recaptured the lead with four runs in the eighth inning. Todd Frazier doubled and Hill walked to open the frame. Frank Meade doubled home Frazier for the first Scarlet Knight run of the inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Tim Querns singled up the middle, scoring two runs and knotting the game at 6-6. A batter later, a balk with runners at second and third plated a run for a 7-6 advantage.
Liberty threatened in the bottom of the inning as Hollinger led off with a double and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. However, reliever Sean Spicer was able to get the next two batters to strand the runner.
The Flames' Miller then opened the bottom of the ninth with a double. The next batter, Michael Just (Sr., 2B, Woodcliff Lake, N.J.), grounded in the hole between third and short, which the Scarlet Knight shortstop Frazier was able to field and throw out Miller trying to advance to third base. A double play then ended the Liberty threat for 7-6 win.
Flames' starter Phillip Thompson (Sr., RHP, Ringgold, Va.) allowed six runs, five earned, in seven innings. The right-hander struck out five and walked one. After picking up a win in each of his first three starts, he did not figure in the decision. Tim John (Jr., RHP, Linwood, N.J.) faced two batters in the eighth and picked up the loss to fall to 2-1 on the season. Dustin Umberger (Fr., RHP, Hummelstown, Pa.) pitched 1 2/3 innings, allowing two hits.
Spicer, the third Rutgers' pitcher of the afternoon, ran his record to 2-0 on the season for Rutgers, allowing three hits in 2 2/3 innings.
The Flames' Miller for the second day in a row had three hits as the third baseman went 3-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored on the afternoon, while four other Liberty players had two hits in the game. Of the Flames' 13 hits, 10 were for extra bases, with 8 doubles and two triples. The Scarlet Knights had three players with two hits each in the game.
Liberty returns to the road this week, beginning with a single game Tuesday night in Charlottesville, Va. as the Flames visit the Virginia Cavaliers. Game time Tuesday is scheduled for 6 p.m.