PISCATAWAY, N.J. – The Rutgers baseball team welcomes West Virginia to Piscataway this weekend for a three-game series at Bainton Field. The Scarlet Knights and Mountaineers will open the series with a 3:30 p.m. game on Friday, followed by 1:00 p.m. games on Saturday and Sunday.
Rutgers has had success against West Virginia in the Garden State, winning the last 12 games played at Rutgers. The Mountaineers' last victory in New Jersey was more than a decade ago when they defeated the Scarlet Knights, 8-6 on April 5, 1997. RU and WVU did not meet last season on the diamond per league scheduling which includes each school playing only nine of the other 11 schools in the conference each season.
Rutgers is 6-13 overall after a split in midweek games against Rider (won 4-3) and Princeton (lost 1-0). The Scarlet Knights opened BIG EAST play against St. John's last weekend, dropping all three games to the Red Storm.
Senior catcher Jon Gossard (Harrington Park, N.J.) leads the Rutgers offense with a .351 average, including a team-high seven doubles. He had his season-long 10-game hitting streak snapped in the Scarlet Knights' last game against Princeton on Wednesday.
Sophomore righty Casey Gaynor (Toms River, N.J.) will start Friday's opener, junior righty Matt Giannini (Millington, N.J.) will get the ball on Saturday and sophomore righty Kyle Bradley (Howell, N.J.) will on Sunday. Despite a 1-4 record, Gaynor has been sharp with 34 strikeouts in 34.1 innings, and has let up two runs or less in three of his five starts. Giannini worked a season-long six innings last Saturday in a no decision against St. John's. Bradley is expected to make his first start on the weekend after hurling 5.1 innings in Rutgers' victory over Rider on Tuesday.
West Virginia is 19-4 this season, including a 3-0 record in the conference. The Mountaineers swept Pittsburgh last weekend in their first league action. Earlier this week, WVU knocked off Coppin State, 26-3, and took a double-header from Morehead State, 10-5, and 16-6. West Virginia enters the weekend on an 11-game winning streak.
The Mountaineers own a .364 team batting average, led by freshman second baseman Jedd Gyorko. The newcomer is hitting .474 with three triples and four home runs.
West Virginia is expected to go with the rotation of junior righty Josh Whitlock (5-0, 2.34 ERA) on Friday, senior lefty Matt Yurish (1-1, 8.14 ERA) on Saturday and sophomore lefty Steve Morrison (4-0, 1.47 ERA) on Sunday.
Sophomore righty Chris Enourato has been the Mountaineers' top closer with four saves this season in 6.1 total innings of relief without an earned run allowed.
Rutgers owns a 31-17 advantage over West Virginia in the all-time series with a series sweep in the last meeting between the teams in 2006.