The Bulldogs were the hosts of an East vs. West coast matchup on March 14th, taking on Rutgers-Newark in a non-conference battle. At times, it was a sloppy game, with eight walks and three errors combined for both sides. However, the Bulldogs regained their focus and won the back-and-forth matchup by a score of 8-5.
Redlands scored first, quickly taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Senior left fielder Mitch Samson led things off for the Bulldogs, smacking a line drive down the left field line for a double. He was brought in by an RBI single by senior right fielder Christian Gurrola, giving him 20 RBIs on the season.
The Scarlet Raiders responded in the top of the second, tying the game up. They then added two more in the third frame, thanks to Justin Marks’ two run double.
The Bulldogs didn’t stay behind for long, and came back with two runs of their own to tie the game up once again. Senior third baseman Mark Tumlinson hit a sacrifice fly to bring in a run to bring the Bulldogs within one. First baseman Ryan Franklin, also a senior, brought in the tying run when his groundout to first base allowed sophomore Christopher Scalisi to score.
The starting pitcher, sophomore Adam Stead, was relieved by another sophomore, as the Bulldogs turned to southpaw Noah Jones to hold down the fort. Unfortunately Jones gave up a single and a walk early in the inning.The Scarlet Raiders soon converted, taking advantage of Scalisi’s error at second base to take the lead. With runners on the corners, Jones then walked a batter to load the bases, and walked another to bring the second run of the inning home, giving Rutgers-Newark a 5-3 lead.
The defense was able to get out of the jam when the Raiders’ Justin Marks popped up to third base for the third out. The Bulldog offense was able to come through again for the Bulldogs, once more retaliating in the bottom half of the inning. With two outs and a runner on second base, Scalisi atoned for his previous error and slugged a double into the left field gap to drive in senior Nathan Bowker. After a Gurrola double, Tumlinson hit a single up the middle to bring in Scalisi and knot the game up one more time.
After a rough fourth inning, Jones calmed down and was able to find his groove. He faced four batters in the fifth without giving up a run, and then retired the side in order in sixth to keep the Raiders’ bats at bay. More timely hitting helped the Bulldogs regain the lead, after sophomore shortstop Brendan Gardiner hit a double down the right field line to give Redlands the 6-5 lead. The hit came with two outs, and ultimately put the Bulldogs up for good.
Sophomore Rainier Aguilar came in to relieve Jones on the mound in the top of the seventh, and struck out two of the first three batters he faced to retire the side. Scalisi gave the Bulldogs breathing room in the bottom half, hitting an RBI single down the left field line to give the Bulldogs a 7-5 lead. Aguilar’s impressive display in the seventh was matched by his performance in the eight, as he struck out the first two batters of the inning and got the next man to ground out. More insurance was provided by the Bulldogs, when a wild pitch thrown by Rutger-Newark’s Dan Murphy brought in Tumlinson from third base.
After a walk and a base hit, Aguilar finished out the ballgame and recorded the first save of his career. For his efforts in the middle innings, Jones was credited with the victory. Head coach Aaron Holley had high praise for his pitching staff.
“They have done a great job in keeping us in the game and allowing our offense to produce for the team.”
The offense’s big day was highlighted by Christian Gurrola, who went 3-4 and raised his average to a blistering .418. Holley noted his stellar play after the game.
“We needed some guys to step up and fill roles for us this year and Christian is a great example of that,” he said. “I’m extremely proud of the way Christian has played this season and I expect that level of play to continue throughout the season.”
The Bulldogs’ matchups against east coast schools continues on Friday at 3:00 pm, when the take on Ithaca College at The Yard.
[Images courtesy of Sky Ung, Redlands Bulldog photographer]