July 18, 2018 | ° F

Lack of offense plagues RU in opening series

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Sophomore outfielder Vinny Zarrillo collected six hits in this weekend’s series against Miami, but the Knights could not find any consistency on offense, resulting in a three-game sweep by the Hurricanes.

The Rutgers baseball team’s schedule in the first month of the season is set up so it does not have to deal with winter weather conditions.

But instead of traveling to Coral Gables, Fla. to experience the sunshine and warm weather usually promised this time of year, the Scarlet Knights dealt with rainouts and a cold atmosphere.

As a result of the weather, the Knights were forced to play a doubleheader Saturday in their three-game series with Miami, dropping all three in the process.

Rutgers lost, 7-0, Sunday, in the last game of the series. Head coach Fred Hill believed it did not have so much to do with the doubleheader the day before.

“The last game I didn’t think we had a whole lot of enthusiasm to be honest,” Hill said. “I don’t think we were tired. I think we have to get after it a little bit more.”

Senior righthander Charlie Law started on the mound for the first time since 2011 in the third game, allowing four runs on six hits in six innings.

Hill liked what he saw from Law and blamed the offense for the third loss.

Miami jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the third, when a walk and a wild pitch resulted in RBI groundouts from outfielders Chantz Mack and David Thompson.

But Rutgers could not respond.

Hill said the conditions did not favor the team, but he does not want to blame the weather for the Knights’ inability to generate runs. Rutgers had just seven hits in the game.

“You can’t use that as an excuse,” Hill said. “They’re playing and they scored seven runs and we scored nothing. But it was a good learning experience.”

Hits were also rare for the Knights in the second game, with only four generated in the second part of Saturday’s doubleheader.

A bright spot was sophomore leftfielder Vinny Zarrillo, who had two of the Knights’ four hits. His six for the weekend led Rutgers in the series.

But despite Zarrillo’s play, Rutgers could not get hits in key situations, resulting in a 4-1 loss.

Hill said senior righthander Tyler Gebler pitched well in the second contest, but a walk from the Toms River, N.J., native in the first inning allowed for Miami (3-0) to get on the board early with two runs in the first.

On the weekend, Rutgers (0-3) allowed eight walks over the three game series, which Hill said Miami converted into seven runs.

“We walked too many guys and a majority of those guys scored,” Hill said. “We gave away runs with that. They know we can’t do that.”

Rutgers’ strongest game came in the first of the series with Rob Smorol on the hill.

The senior lefthander allowed three runs on three hits in six innings.

The game went to the ninth inning with Rutgers up 4-3, but the bullpen was unable to give Smorol the win.

Senior lefthander Rob Corsi started the inning with a walk to first baseman Christopher Barr, and after a hit by a pitch on outfielder Dale Carey, junior righthander Charlie Lasky entered the game.

But after a bunt moved Barr and Carey over, pinch-hitter Garret Kennedy drove both in for the Miami win.

“I thought we outplayed them in the first game, but it didn’t fall our way,” Law said. “I thought we played really well and we can take this series and move forward.”

The Miami series allowed Hill to get a feel for what his team needed to work on.

For senior catcher Jeff Melillo, he believes the competion was needed.

“You want to play the best competion, and I think as a team we realized we are as good as the guys we are playing against,” Melillo said. “You don’t really get much out of playing teams with kids who are level with you skill-wise.”

For more updates on the Rutgers baseball team, follow Bradly Derechailo on Twitter @BradlyDTargum.

By Bradly Derechailo

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