Sloppy effort wastes offensive outburst
Rutgers head baseball coach Fred Hill knew his lineup needed some tweaking heading into yesterday's matchup with Delaware in order for the Scarlet Knights to have more offensive production.
And although the bats came alive for the Knights in Newark, Del., a victory still eluded Hill and Co., as 17 hits went for naught in a 14-12 loss.
With an 11-8 lead heading into the top of the eighth inning and sophomore southpaw Rob Corsi on the bump, it appeared the Knights were on their way to erasing a three-game losing skid.
But just as the bats were equally effective yesterday for both teams, the defenses were just as sloppy. Two errors by sophomore shortstop Pat Sweeney to start the inning kicked off a three-hit, six-run rally for the Blue Hens, cementing the Knights' fourth consecutive loss.
The Knights mounted a comeback in the top of the ninth inning and crossed a run off on a single by senior third baseman D.J. Anderson to cut the Delaware lead to two.
But after senior rightfielder Michael Lang scored on Anderson's single, Delaware's Jeff Murray retired the next two Knight batters.
"You always think you have a chance. It looked pretty good," Anderson said of the team's rally to start the inning. "It's a funny game and a lot of things happened, but it happens. It's baseball."
Rutgers' 12 runs were the most scored this season in a losing effort, and with the midweek defeat the Knights dropped to 8-13 this season in non-conference games.
Junior righthander Willie Beard struggled again in his start for the Knights, going 5 1/3 innings while allowing seven hits and as many runs in the short outing.
There seemed to be no remedy for either defense yesterday at Bob Hannah Stadium, as four blunders for each squad made for a less than pleasant afternoon contest.
Both teams peppered the ball all over the field, as all but two Rutgers batters recorded multiple hits in the game.
Anderson led the way from the plate with his 3-for-5, four-RBI day, but sophomore first baseman Bill Hoermann took a big step forward yesterday with his 2-for-5, three-RBI performance.
The Toms River, N.J., native entered the contest with a .163 average.
"I've been working hard hitting the last two practices with the coaches," Hoermann said. "I tried to be more aggressive and today I got a few pitches up and was able to drive them."
But despite the Knights' efficient .425 batting average on the day, the Blue Hens benefited most from their miscues in the field.
Sweeney, who left the game in the seventh with a leg injury, committed all four of the Knights' errors in the contest, which led to eight unearned runs for the home squad.
The Knights will use the rest of the week to prep for one of the nation's best and the top Big East program: Connecticut.
Despite the loss, Hoermann sees no reason why yesterday's production from the plate cannot translate into the weekend.
"Every time you have a big breakout game like this I feel like you should be able to take all these positives from the plate and go into this weekend," he said. "Every pitcher throws the ball the same way. We should just come out with the same mentality we did today and never give up."