@MemphisBaseball Takes Crucial Series Opener Against Rutgers, 8-3
May 15, 2014
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Jake Little went 4-for-5 as the University of Memphis baseball team took the series opener over Rutgers, 8-3, Thursday night at FedExPark.
Rutgers struck first with a two-out RBI single from Christian Campbell in the top of the second to score Joe D’Annunzio after he singled and stole second.
In the bottom half of the frame, Memphis answered with a two-out RBI of its own. Carter White recorded a one-out single before Ethan Gross reached on an error by the shortstop to put runners on first and second. With two outs, Nate Rupiper laced one down the right field line to score White and even the score.
Errors doomed the Tigers in the third as the Scarlet Knights pushed across two unearned runs to take a 3-1 advantage. Mike Carter led off with a double to left field followed by Nick Favatella, who reached on an error by the Memphis outfield. A single and an error put Rutgers back on top before a sacrifice fly by D’Annunzio plated another Scarlet Knight.
The Tigers threatened in the bottom of the third by loading the bases with one out after a walk by Zach Willis and singles from Kane Barrow and Little. However, a double play ended the chance for Memphis to cut into the Rutgers lead.
Little’s nation leading 11th outfield assist of the season kept the Scarlet Knights off the board in the fourth as he threw out Campbell at home to keep the score at 3-1. In the bottom of the frame, Keaton Aldridge and Rupiper both singled and an error allowed both to advance, but Rutgers responded with an outfield assist of their own to get Aldridge out at the plate.
Memphis went on top in the fifth as Darien Tubbs began the comeback with a leadoff bunt single. Barrow followed with a one-out single before a double by Little scored Tubbs for a 3-2 game. After a walk by White, a sacrifice fly to right center by Gross brought in Barrow for a tie game. White stole second before Little took off for home, prompting a throw by the second baseman that sailed over the catcher for Little to score safely and give the Tigers their first lead at 4-3.
Memphis threatened to add to its lead in the seventh with runners on the corners and one out, but a foulout to third and a groundout ended the Tigers half of the inning.
In the eighth, the Tigers increased their lead with three walks to load the bases. With two outs, an error by the Rutgers shortstop allowed two more runs to score for a 6-3 Memphis advantage. Little followed with a single to load the bases before White drove in two more for the Tigers with a single up the middle to make it 8-3.
Caleb Wallingford (6-4) earned the win for the Tigers while Howie Brey (5-3) was saddled with the loss for Rutgers. Trevor Sutton and Colin Lee, who earned the save, combined for six strikeouts and allowed just two hits in 3.0 innings of work out of the bullpen.
With the win, Memphis can clinch a spot in the American Athletic Conference Championship with a win on Friday or a Cincinnati loss in their contest at No. 5 Louisville.
Both teams return for game two of the series tomorrow at 6:30 p.m.