PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers starter Howie Brey tossed a complete game to lead the Scarlet Knights to a series-opening 5-3 victory over the 13th-ranked University of Iowa baseball team on Thursday afternoon at Bainton Field.
The victory was Rutgers’ first Big Ten win since April 5 — a 6-5 home triumph over Minnesota — ending a 12-game conference losing streak. Iowa is 37-13 overall and 18-4 in Big Ten play, 2 1/2 games behind league-leading Illinois, who can clinch a regular season title with a home victory over Nebraska tonight in Champaign.
"Their lefty did a nice job," said UI head coach Rick Heller. "He worked out of some jams and had a good day. Unfortunately for us, Tyler Peyton had a rough start and wasn’t able to locate his fastball all day long and it cost him today."
Rutgers scored all five of its runs in the third and fourth innings against Peyton. The right-hander was tagged with the loss, allowing five runs on five hits in 3 2/3 innings. He had two walks and hit two batters.
The Scarlet Knights put up a crooked number in the third inning, taking advantage of three free bases. Rutgers loaded the bases with one out on two walks and a hit by pitch before Tom Marcinczyk laced a two-run single to left centerfield to give Rutgers a 2-0 lead.
With two outs, Kyle Walker followed with an RBI double down the right field line to plate the third run, but Iowa avoided further damage when a Joel Booker-to Jake Mangler to Jimmy Frankos relay gunned down Marcinczyk at the plate to end the inning.
The Hawkeyes got one run back in the fourth, loading the bases with one out on three consecutive singles from Grant Klenovich, Nick Roscetti, and Jimmy Frankos. Klenovich crossed the plate on an RBI groundout from Booker, but that’s all that was doing, as Nick Day flied out to left field to end the inning.
The Scarlet Knights chased Peyton from the contest in the fourth, but not before plating two more runs to stretch their lead to 5-1. Vinny Zarrillo did the damage with two outs, lacing an opposite field, two-run double into the corner down the left field line.
The Hawkeyes responded in the fifth, loading the bases with two outs on a Mangler single and consecutive walks from Kris Goodman and Klenovich. Roscetti cut the deficit in half with a two-RBI single under the glove of a diving Milo Freeman at third base, making the score 5-3.
Junior Ryan Erickson gave Iowa a chance, throwing 4 1/3 innings of shutout relief. The southpaw scattered four hits and had one strikeout in lowering his ERA to 1.97 for the season.
"Ryan came in and slowed things down and gave us a chance to come back, but it just wasn’t to be today," said Heller. "We weren’t able to get anything mounted late, and it was a tough loss."
Iowa’s offense couldn’t string together consecutive base runners until the ninth inning when Mangler and Peyton had back-to-back two out singles. Rutgers stuck with Brey, and he got out of the inning by getting Goodman to fly out to right field to end the game.
The Hawkeyes finished with nine hits in the game, including a three-hit, two-RBI effort from Roscetti. It was his 18th multi-hit and third three-hit game of the season. Mangler went 2-for-5 with a run scored.
Game two of the series will begin at 12 p.m. (CT) Friday with the Hawkeyes sending junior Blake Hickman to the mound against Rutgers RHP John O’Reilly.