Tech claimed a decisive victory this past weekend, sweeping Rutgers in a doubleheader at Russ Chandler Stadium. In their first game of the afternoon, the Jackets won 6-4, with sophomore All-American pitcher Deck McGuire keeping the Scarlet Knights to one run before being relieved after an impressive eight- inning performance. In the second game of the afternoon, Tech dominated Rutgers 13-4 with junior pitcher Zach Von Tersch making a notable showing on the mound. Junior first baseman Tony Plagman, senior catcher Jason Haniger, and junior left fielder Jay Dantzler each batted in three runs apiece.
By Saturday afternoon it was clear that Tech has found a star pitcher in McGuire. McGuire kept the Scarlet Knights to four hits as he struck out seven bringing him to 10-1 in his career. Add on the fact that he kept this up for eight innings, Saturday was a good indication of the strength Tech’s bullpen this season.
The Tech offense got its first break in the bottom of the third with Plagman being hit by a pitch and scoring off an RBI by senior outfielder Chris House after moving to third on a single by junior second baseman Patrick Long.
The score didn’t change again until the bottom of the sixth when freshman third baseman Matt Skole homered and picking up two RBIs. The Scarlet Knights returned fire the next inning earning one run and making the score 3-1 going into the seventh inning stretch.
After Rutgers failed to score at the top of the eight, Plagman scored a decisive two-run homer to make the score 5-1.
“It was just a matter of time with [Plagman], he began swinging the bat better as the week went on, and I was glad to see him get rewarded. He had a great day,” said Head Coach Danny Hall in an interview with ramblinwreck.com.
Sophomore Jeff Rowland also added a sacrifice fly to make the score 6-1. With a 6-1 lead going into the ninth, victory for the Jackets seemed all but guaranteed. However Rutgers started to make a comeback against freshman closer Mark Pope with three runs being batted in by Rutgers’ catcher Jason Hernandez and outfielder Luis Feliz. Pope struck out outfielder Jarred Jimenez to close out the game, for his second save of the season.
After the relatively close save by Pope, things looked like they might be a little more even in game two of the series. However, with Tersch holding off the Scarlet Knights, the Tech offense was able to go wild, scoring 13 runs off of 15 hits.
An RBI single gave Rutgers a 2-0 lead injecting some much-needed momentum into Rutgers’ team. Plagman, however, came out strong with a homer over center field making it a one-point game. The next two innings were when things started taking off for the Jackets, with both Dantzler and Haniger batting in two runs, Haniger doing so with a homer.
“Jay [Dantzler] is an up-and-comer… He is a very good player, and had a very good day,” Hall said.
With eight runs off of eight hits Tech had a commanding 9-2 lead. This was not enough for the Jackets as sophomore short stop Derek Dietrich and freshman second baseman Connor Winn both batted in runs to increase the lead to 12-2. When Tersch loaded the bases in the seventh, freshman Jake Davies came in to relieve him. Davies was able to send three Scarlet Knights back to their dugout to finish out the top of the inning, Tech leading 12-4.
Dantzler came out after the stretch to score with a homer, bringing the score to its final numbers. Davies shut out Rutgers in the next two innings only to be relieved by Freshman Jacob Esch, who pitched a solid 1-2-3 inning to finish the game.
Saturday marked a continuing improvement in both Tech’s batting and its pitching. Tersch struck out nine, his career high, and in the earlier game McGuire struck out seven. Overall the Tech bullpen looks strong for the season ahead. Sunday the Jackets were scheduled to play their series finale, but it was cancelled on account of snow. The Jackets, now 6-1, kick off a weekend series against Maryland today at Russ Chandler Stadium.