PISCATAWAY, N.J. – In a good back-and-forth battle, Rutgers got the final punch with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 11th to take game one of the three-game series, 6-5 in 11 innings.
Ohio State (5-4) scored twice in the top of the 9th to take a 5-4 lead, but Rutgers answered in the bottom of the inning with a run to send the game to extras. After escaping a bases loaded, one-out jam in the 10th, Bayden Root gave up a leadoff double to Cameron Love and he later scored on a sac fly to give Rutgers (5-4) the win.
Sam Wilson and Nick Erwin each had two hits and a double in the game. Connor Pohl hit his third home run of the season, tying the game in the eighth.
Garrett Burhenn made his third start and threw well, going 5.0 innings and allowing just two runs on six hits and striking eight with not walking anyone.
Ohio State got on the board first in the second inning as Nate Karaffa and Mitchell Okuley perfectly executed a double steal to score Okuley from third. Erwin followed with a single to right to score Karaffa and the Buckeyes were in front 2-0. Rutgers got a home run from first baseman Jordan Sweeney in the bottom of the second to cut the lead in half at 2-1.
Ohio State loaded the bases with two outs in the top of third but Colton Bauer struck out to end the threat. Rutgers also loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the inning for Sweeney. Burhenn was able to get him swinging on a nasty slider to keep the Buckeyes in front.
Rutgers tied the game in the fifth inning as Richie Schiekofer hit a one-out double to score a runner all the way from first. Then in the seventh, Chris Brito, the Big Ten leader in home runs, added to his total with a line shot to left. The solo shot broke the tie and gave Rutgers its first lead of the game.
Pohl’s homer in the eighth was a no-doubter to right. Rutgers took the lead right back with two hits in the bottom of the inning and the Scarlet Knights headed to the ninth with a 4-3 lead.
Bauer led off with a single and was sacrificed to second by Karaffa. Erwin then doubled down the left field line to score Bauer and tie the game. Wilson followed with an RBI single and the Buckeyes took a 5-4 lead.
TJ Brock, who came on to get the final out in the eighth, remained on looking for his third save of the season. After a leadoff single, he got the next two guys out but then his 3-0 pitch hit Sweeney in the head. Sweeney was down for quite some time and ultimately left the game. Victor Valderama then hit a chopper up the middle that found its way through. The runner scored from second to tie the game at 5-5.
After a 1-2-3 tenth for the Buckeyes, Rutgers loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the tenth, but Bayden Root got two groundouts to end the threat.
In the 11th, Love led off the Scarlet Knight half of the inning with a bloop double to center. Kade Kern made a nice diving attempt but couldn’t quite come up with the ball. Love advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly to center to give Rutgers the 6-5 victory.
Game two of the series is set for 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Seth Lonsway will toe the rubber for the Buckeyes and Rutgers will counter with Ben Wereski.