March 19, 2003
Florida Atlantic University won its fourth straight meeting over Rutgers University by one run as it defeated the Scarlet Knights 9-8 after RU scored three runs in the ninth inning. Chris Saxton entered the game with the tying run at the plate in the ninth inning and recorded his fifth save of the season.
After Matt Ryan (Camden, NJ) and Mike Murray (Boca Raton, FL) started the first inning with singles and moved over to second and third on a Jeff Fiorentino (Hollywood, FL) bunt. FAU scored its first run of the game as Rutgers turned a double play. Mike Murray crossed the plate on the next play as Matt Pali picked up his only RBI of the game. Two straight walks loaded the bases for Evan Brannon. He capitalized on starting pitcher Jim Jansen's mistakes and singled through the left side to record two RBIs.
A Vinny Esposito double to lead off the second inning led to the first run of the game for the Scarlet Knights when Matt Wolski singled to right field.
FAU (21-6) padded the lead for starter Travis NeSmtih in the second after Murray reached after being hit in the head with a pitch. Fiorentino moved two players into scoring position for Rusty Brown to post two RBIs and give FAU a 6-1 lead.
Rutgers (2-10), a team that is used to battling back against some tough competition, picked up three runs in the third with two outs after NeSmith gave up four consecutive hits. With Esposito's second straight double of the night he picked up the only two RBIs in the inning. A Wolski singled followed by a Florida Atlantic error led to the third run of the inning.
Leadoff singles in the fifth and sixth innings hurt the Rutgers staff as both runners came around to score. But down by four in the ninth inning the team threatened. Freshman pitcher Steve Emery came out of the pen for Florida Atlantic but gave up three straight singles and one run as Saxton (Lake Worth, FL) followed him out of the pen. Saxton allowed a single and a sacrifice fly, which decreased the margin to one. The junior did not crack under pressure as he got the next two batters to ground out for the Scarlet Knights.
Travis NeSmith (4-1) pitched six innings and allowed 10 hits and struck out one as he picked up the victory. Reliever Matt O'Brien struck out four in two innings of action before giving way to Emery and Saxton in the ninth.
Jim Jansen took the loss for Rutgers after he worked 1 1/3 innings and allowed six runs on six hits. He falls to 0-1 in his first collegiate start.
Florida Atlantic hits the road after a six-game homestand to take on Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, AL. The conference series is scheduled for 8 pm et on Friday with a doubleheader to follow on Saturday at 2 pm et.