Baseball: Cincinnati presents redemption for midweek loss
Losers of three of its last five, the Rutgers baseball team still has a chance to solidify itself atop the Big East standings with a series win at home against Cincinnati.
A loss to Fordham will not help the Scarlet Knights (14-15, 6-3) record-wise, but senior righthander Charlie Law was able to pick out the positives from the defeat yesterday before practice.
“We can potentially use it as a blessing in disguise because we had a really good comeback practice [Wednesday],” Law said. “Losing against Fordham obviously humbles you and brings you back to reality, so there is no question you have to be ready to play.”
The Knights thought they learned their lesson when they dropped a road loss March 26 to Rider.
The Fordham game — a 15-14 slugfest where strong pitching was traded for three-run innings — is a game Rutgers obviously does not want to lose. Head coach Fred Hill believes there was another reason why the Knights were unable to put away the Rams in the Bronx.
“We walked 11 batters and we hit six,” Hill said. “That’s 17 freebees and you can’t win that way.”
So it will be up to senior lefthander Rob Smorol to get Rutgers back in the win column, though Hill would prefer if Smorol left his last performance somewhere he cannot remember it.
In the Knights’ first game against the Pirates last weekend, Smorol lasted just four and two-thirds innings as he allowed four earned runs on 10 hits.
For Smorol, who owns a 3-2 record with a 2.88 ERA as Hill’s No. 1 starter, his latest outing can be looked at as a fluke.
Hill sure hopes that is the case.
“Last time out he was a little wild,” Hill said. “Hopefully he will get back to his normal self and will be able to throw a good ball game. We’re certainly counting on him to throw a good ball game.”
Hill will use his normal three-man, weekend rotation, with senior righthander Tyler Gebler pitching in Game 2 while senior righthander Charlie Law takes the hill to start Game 3.
Rutgers would benefit from a series win, and Law wants it more than anyone.
“Its extremely important,” Law said. “Obviously every series in the Big East is important, especially a series at home. We just lost to Seton Hall at home so we need to win a series here at Bainton Field so we can establish that we are really tough when we play at our home park.”
This will be the last series at home for the Knights until May 3, when they host Connecticut.
If Rutgers wants to get back to its hot play it experienced in its Big East series against Louisville and Villanova, Hill said its up to both his pitchers and batters to contribute.
“I want to see good pitching,” Hill said. “They’re struggling a little bit, but we have to also get some timely hits. We can’t just get a hit there and a hit here, we have to get hits when we have men in scoring position.”
For updates on the Rutgers baseball team, follow Bradly Derechailo on Twitter @Bradly_D. For general updates on Rutgers sports, follow @Targumsports.