Matchup with old team excites Rutgers assistant
During his 12 seasons as head coach of the Wagner baseball team, Joe Litterio really got to know the Seahawks.
But Litterio will watch it today from the opposite dugout at Bainton Field in his first year as the Scarlet Knights’ assistant coach. Litterio might be the indirect key to Wagner’s chance of victory.
“The fact that I’m over here — that’s the most dangerous thing,” Litterio said. “A few guys were upset that I left, and they want to show me what they’ve become as players. … They want to prove something to me.”
Litterio returned to his alma mater after winning 240 games with Wagner, the most in school history.
Beside extra motivation, Wagner’s other advantage is senior pitcher Ryan Fasano’s expected innings limit on the mound.
Fasano’s duty as a spot starter pushed him to the team’s usual midweek games, but he may need to make another start four days later.
Junior pitcher Rob Corsi left after one-plus innings Saturday against Seton Hall because of injury. If the lefthander is unable to pitch this weekend, that means another spot start for Fasano on Sunday against Georgetown.
Hill capped Fasano to three innings at most against Wagner (9-14) because of the possibility of the extra start. Corsi’s injury ultimately means Fasano will pitch at least six innings less than his shutout March 21 against Rider.
“It’s the same approach,” Fasano said. “[I need] first-pitch strikes, same thing every time. I just have to attack the hitters — can’t give them free outs with walks.”
Fasano’s experience as a spot starter makes him accustomed to limited rest. He allowed two earned runs in seven innings against Stetson on March 16 in a 3-0 loss.
Pitching four days later, when he shut out Rider, was not a problem. He views this start as simply another time he moves around the schedule.
“So far this year I’ve pitched on a Friday, pitched on a Saturday, pitched on a Wednesday,” Fasano said. “The only day left is a Sunday, so it’s just another day to pitch.”
The bullpen served eight innings after Corsi departed in the 9-6 win. The relievers allowed only three earned runs during that stretch.
Three Knights pitched less than an inning. Head coach Fred Hill wants more.
“We have to find some guys that can maybe come in and give us more than a couple outs,” he said.
Along with durability, Wagner presents the Rutgers (11-10, 2-1) pitching with the challenge of speed. The Seahawks have stolen 27 bases in 32 attempts.
“You have to adjust to that,” Hill said. “You pay a little more attention to the guy who you think is going to run. You’re throwing over there a little bit more, putting on a couple of pickoff plays to let them know that you know and try to slow them down.”
Certain baseball plays make lasting impressions, such as a home run, a diving catch or pitching to a batter’s head.
If Wagner wants to make an impression on Litterio, its best chance is aggressiveness on the base paths. Litterio would not doubt a successful outing from his former team.
“They’re actually doing really well,” he said. “They haven’t lost a weekend series in three weeks right now, so that’s helpful for me to give some inside pointers to help our team here.”