June 23, 2018 | ° F

Offense struggles as Rutgers works out early-season kinks

In just a few short words, junior outfielder Vinny Zarrillo put the Rutgers baseball team’s performance against Miami into context.

“We’re all just getting back into it,” Zarrillo said.

It is hard to judge the direction of a team in the first series, but some of the problems the Scarlet Knights had against the Hurricanes will have to be addressed starting today against Old Dominion.

“They’re always a sound team,” Hill said. “They’re always going to be a good team.”

The Lions (1-1) have a 10-1 victory against Marshall as a positive to draw on for their first game with the Knights.

Meanwhile, Rutgers (0-3) has a 7-0 loss to Miami to deal with.

One of the problems Zarrillo believed plagued the Knights in their opening series was converting in clutch situations.

Rutgers left 19 runners on base in the three game series, including seven in each of its last two contests.

Senior righthander Tyler Gebler was on the mound in Game 2 of the series when Miami had a 2-0 lead in the top of the third. Rutgers loaded the bases, but junior outfielder Brian O’Grady grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning.

“We had a couple of spots in Miami where we had guys on and we could have put them in a hole early and we weren’t able to do that,” Gebler said, “so if we have those kind of opportunities we really have to get on someone early.”

Zarrillo said the stat line falls directly on the offense’s back.

“Our pitching and our defense was pretty solid for the first weekend, but I think timely hitting we need,” Zarrillo said. “We need to put together some runs because I think we lacked hitting the most [against Miami].”

Hitting takes time to develop, especially with the practice conditions the Knights must deal with — having a majority of their practices inside the Rutgers Practice Bubble.

So it is up to performances in the field and on the mound to shoulder some of the load, and Gebler feels that it is no added pressure.

“For the first series you don’t really worry about it because it was the first time we were outside,” Gebler said. “But you do feel like you are down 1 or 2 nothing, you really feel like you need to bear down because you can’t get to far behind.”

Gebler also pointed out another statistic Hill wants addressed sooner rather than later.

“I thought we competed well, but we put on like 15 guys over the weekend and a lot of those guys winded up scoring,” Gebler said. “So we just have to cut down on walks and let them put the ball in play.”

Rutgers dished out eight walks to the Hurricanes while Miami let six get on with the free pass.

The difference between the two was that Miami was able to drive those runners in.

The Knights have an opportunity to correct those issues, and with only one series in the books, it is nothing for Rutgers to get to worked up about.

Still, Gebler knows his team is itching for its first win, and maybe, its first series.

“The first one always big,” Gebler said. “We’re kind of pressing a bit but I think if we get that first game out of the way, we will be able to win that series.”

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

By Bradly Derechailo

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