Ruegger sets strikeout record as Baseball tops Houghton to open E8 Tournament

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HOBOKEN, N.J. (May 10, 2018)  – Junior Charlie Ruegger spun his third complete game of the season while setting the single-season program record for strikeouts as the Stevens Institute of Technology Baseball team defeated Houghton College 4-2 Thursday afternoon to open the Empire 8 Conference Tournament.

Ruegger (8-2) continued his dominant 2018 campaign, scattering just four hits and striking out 12 in his first season as a starting pitcher. The Morris Plains, New Jersey native has allowed two runs or less in seven starts this season and has struck out at least five in 12 of his 13 outings. Ruegger fanned Ben Closson to end the sixth for his 92nd strikeout of the year, passing classmate Danny Poidomani, who struck out 91 one season ago.

Junior Donny Gherardi had two RBI and classmate Matthew Pasko scored twice for the Ducks, who plated three runs in the fifth to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 advantage. Stevens has won six of its last seven game to improve to 26-15. The program record for victories in a season is 29, set in 2015.

John Zamites reached base three times and drove in a pair for Houghton, who dropped its second straight game to fall to 16-16. The Highlanders are making their first appearance in the conference tournament. Stevens has won all four meetings between the teams.

Houghton left-hander Victor Cavalieri (5-5) matched Rugger's efforts through four innings, before Pasko singled leading off the fifth to spoil the senior's no-hit bid. Freshman Nathan Zuckerman walked and senior Tommy Baronner singled to load the bases. Cavalieri plunked Gherardi with his 1-0 pitch to force in a run, but the lefty settled in to strike out Shaye Bartnick for the first out of the inning. Senior Alex Detweiler drove in his 47th run of the season with a fielder's choice groundout to extend his season total. The senior set the single-season program record against St. John Fisher on May 4. Sophomore Patrick Rood gave Stevens its first lead of the tournament with a single up to the middle to score Baronner with the third run of the frame. 

Ruegger made the one-run lead hold up allowing just Nicholas Melchiore's two-out single in the ninth over the final four innings. Ruegger walked four and struck out at least one in each of the final four innings. The right-hander inched to within three of Cavalieri for the conference lead in strikeouts. Both pitchers rank among the top-10 in the country in strikeouts and in the top-50 in strikeouts per nine innings. 

Stevens added an insurance run in eighth. Pasko stroked a one-out ground-rule double to left. After Zuckerman struck out on a 3-2 fastball, Baronner grounded a Holden Deres pitch to third, but Taylor Huntsman had trouble fielding the ball for his second error of the day. Just two pitches later, Gherardi singled to center, scoring Pasko, to give Stevens a little breathing room.

The Empire 8 Conference Tournament is in its fourth season of existence and Stevens earned an opening-day victory for the second consecutive season. The Ducks improved to 4-5 all-time in the conference's championship tournament.

Up Next: Stevens awaits the winner of the St. John Fisher-Ithaca matchup on Saturday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.

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