UR sweeps RPI, Reina gets 400th win

Courtesy of UofRAthletics.com

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The University of Rochester completed a weekend sweep of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Saturday at Towers Field, earning head coach Joe Reina his 400th career victory and moving into first place in the Liberty League standings in the process.

Rochester took game one 9-4 and earned a 12-1 triumph in game two, moving to 16-5 overall on the season. The Yellowjackets are now 10-2 in the Liberty League, moving ahead of Ithaca in the league standings after the Bombers were tagged with their second conference loss of the season on Saturday.

RPI, who just started their 2021 campaign on Friday, is 0-4 overall and 0-4 in the league.

Game one’s win earned Reina his 400th at the helm of the Rochester program. Reina, in his 20th season coaching now has a career record of 401-322-2 following the doubleheader sweep. The five-time Liberty League Coach of the Year has led the Yellowjackets since 2002, and guided UR to its first Liberty League Tournament title in 2019.

After a 1-2-3 top of the first from game one starter Trevor Van Allen, the Yellowjackets grabbed an early lead when leadoff hitter Aaron Whitley lined base hit to the gap in right center, recording an inside-the-park home run, his second round tripper of the season. Reigning conference Rookie of the Week John Moses made it 2-0 after one, singling up the middle to score Harper Sy.

Whitley provided the next run of the game in the second, hitting a high fly ball to right which bounced off the turf and over the fence for a ground-rule double, scoring Brian McKinsey.

The next inning, Jack Vaccari tripled in two runs for the Engineers, but Rochester responded by putting up a five-spot in the bottom of the frame, taking the lead 8-2 after three. McKinsey laced a 2-run single, Joseph Rende had an RBI single and Sy drove in two with a base hit for UR’s runs in the third.

An RPI double play groundout scored a run in the fourth and a sacrifice fly from Hunter Livesey added a run in the sixth, making the score 8-4 in favor of Rochester. Jackson Reed countered RPI’s sacrifice fly with one of his own in the bottom of the sixth to complete the game one scoring.

Van Allen picked up his second win of the season for Rochester, going six innings allowing five this, four runs and three walks while striking out five. Thomas Karpishin closed out the win with a scoreless seventh inning.

Whitley, Rende, Sy and Moses all had two hits in the opener with McKinsey, Whitley and Sy each driving in two runs.

RPI’s Vaccari was the lone bright spot on offense in game one, going 2-for-4 with two RBI coming on a triple. Jake Nichols took the loss, yielding seven runs over 2.1 innings of work.

In the nightcap, the Engineers looked to strike early, loading the bases with just one out in the first inning against UR starter Jason Cobert. After a strikeout, Cobert hit Richard Drum, Vaccari walked and Joe Curci singled to fill the bases. Cobert escaped the jam though, getting a pop out and ground out to end the threat.

RPI was held to just four hits against the UR starter over the next five innings, as Cobert picked up his third win of the year, going six strong, allowing five hits, one run with four strikeouts. Three relievers, Nathan SlenskaThomas Blaydes and Spencer Rojahn each threw a scoreless inning to close out UR’s fourth win of the series.

After a scoreless first inning, Rochester jumped into the lead, scoring three times in the second. McKinsey’s strong doubleheader kept going as he singled to left, plating Steve Pickering. Reed followed by reaching on a swinging bunt back to the pitcher, scoring a run and Whitley added a sacrifice fly to put UR up 3-0.

Two runs scored in the bottom of the third, as Josh Leadem singled up the middle, driving in Sy, with the second run coming home on a wild pitch.

RPI’s lone run of the game came in the fourth on an RBI groundout from Livesey, scoring Martin Marintchev who led off the inning with a triple to right center.

Rochester’s Whitley used his speed in the bottom of the inning to cancel that run out, making the score 6-1 after four. After singling up the middle, Whitley stole second and moved to third after the throw down went into center field. The next pitch went to the backstop and he was able to cross home on the wild pitch.

An error by RPI kept the sixth inning alive for Rochester and junior Jacob Matzat made the Engineers pay, launching his team leading fifth home run of the season over the left center field wall. Matzat cleared the loaded bases for the first grand slam of his career.

Two more runs crossed home in the bottom of the seventh as Pickering blooped in a double down the left field line, scoring Rende and pinch hitter Dylan Stezzi, reaching the final score of 12-1.

At the plate in game two, Whitley and McKinsey each had two hits while four Yellowjackets scored two runs apiece (Rende, Sy, Luke Piontek, Matzat). Matzat and Pickering each drove in two or more runs in the win, UR’s fifth in a row.

Rochester returns to action on Tuesday with a road doubleheader at Oswego State. RPI’s next games are Wednesday against conference opponent Skidmore.

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