Postponement allows chance to avoid injury
With no precipitation in the forecast, temperatures hovering around 35 degrees and plowed snow looming in the background, it is difficult to imagine playing baseball in this sort of weather at Bainton Field.
The opportunity to play the first home game of the season was not easily decided for the Rutgers baseball team.
The Scarlet Knights (3-6) postponed their 3 p.m. game today against Seton Hall (7-2).
The decision was very easy for head coach Joe Litterio, as Bainton Field is experiencing similar issues to that of New Brunswick parking.
“The weather was everything. The bullpens have a 3-foot high ice hill in them on both sides so the pitchers couldn’t really get warmed up,” Litterio said. “My other concern was home plate, which the tarp had frozen on top of and the dirt under there would be mud. This time of the year you don’t want to get anybody injured, and it was the smart decision to postpone it and pick it up in early April.”
The main goal at the beginning of the season was to have the youth in the pitching staff gain valuable experience. Eleven Rutgers pitchers have made their collegiate debut so far this season.
With nine innings lost today to the postponement, those innings will need to be made up one way or another, according to pitching coach Casey Gaynor.
“Guys who were going to throw tomorrow will get their work in [this week],” Gaynor said. “It will just be like [they pitched] a normal game.”
While sitting in near-freezing weather may not be the most appealing to spectators, it does not necessarily bother the players, specifically the pitchers.
If the Knights were to play today, they would have to be vigilant during down time, between innings and at-bats in order to avoid injury, according to Gaynor.
“The guys are fine once they get out there and start playing, so the weather is not that big of an issue,” Gaynor said. “It’s the getting up and sitting down. You have to make sure that between the innings when they are sitting down that they stay loose and keep moving.”
The postponed game was not the worst thing in the world for Rutgers.
Avoiding injuries and getting the field ready for next week’s home opener on March 12 against Hofstra were at the forefront of concerns for Litterio.
Senior shortstop Pat Sweeney presented a different advantage of waiting another week for their next game.
“This early on in the season it’s always good to get an extra practice day. I know guys have been itching to play a home game, but hopefully we get it back later on in the year,” Sweeney said. “We just have to make the best of what we have here. We have to get better every day, that’s the main goal here.”
Litterio has already started looking ahead to the week of training and will start to prepare for this weekend’s series in Oklahoma.
The lost innings were somewhat of an afterthought.
“This time of the year everyone wants to get innings and wants to be able to pitch. We’ll just have to go at it on Friday against Oklahoma,” Litterio said. “That does hurt losing innings. But how do you make up for it? You work here in the Bubble as hard as you can.”
For updates on the Rutgers baseball team, follow Tyler Karalewich on Twitter @TylerKaralewich. For general Rutgers sports updates, follow @TargumSports.