Rookie earns second-career win at No. 7
When facing the No. 7 team in the nation, having a 19-year-old make only his second career start is typically less than ideal.
But that is just what the Rutgers baseball team (8-12, 1-2) did when closing out its spring break road trip Sunday against No. 7 Louisville (17-6, 2-1).
The duties fell on freshman righthander Gaby Rosa.
Rosa made his first career start in a 5-1 win March 15 at a neutral site against Lafayette, pitching a team-high seven innings up until that point in the season.
Rosa was pulled from the game at a time he might not have expected.
With the score sitting at 11-2, the Perth Amboy, N.J., native was not sent out for the bottom of the ninth inning, almost certainly collecting his second win of the season barring a catastrophic collapse.
After junior righthander Jon Young shut the door with a strikeout, groundout and fly out, Rosa earned the second win of his career just a week after his first.
The opportunity to pitch in the spotlight against the Cardinals was thrilling for Rosa.
“I was just happy to be out on the mound,” Rosa said. “When [head] coach [Joe] Litt[erio] told me I had the start the day before I knew it was a tough opponent. Going up against the No. 7 team in the country is exciting.”
Anchored by a strong offense all year, the Scarlet Knights’ pitchers have benefitted on the mound from live hitting.
Four runs in the eighth inning all but sealed the win for Rutgers.
After freshman third baseman Christian Campbell reached on a single, senior shortstop Pat Sweeney reached on a bunt single and sophomore catcher R.J. Devish reached on an error, the stage was set for freshman outfielder Mike Carter to open up the score even more.
Carter singled in Sweeney and Campbell to extend the lead even more before stealing his third base of the season.
The Bloomfield, N.J., native ended up scoring in the inning. It was his second run to go along with three runs batted in for the game.
The quality defense and pitching Knights produced made things easier for Carter.
“I just felt more comfortable at the plate and as a team we got extra hits when we needed them,” Carter said. “Having Gaby pitch and not give up too many runs obviously made us feel more comfortable and we were able to score more runs.”
With the win to close out a road stretch, Rutgers is experiencing some confidence entering its next conference series this weekend against UConn.
For Litterio, the pitching and hitting are starting to come together just in time.
“[Rosa’s performance] was really what the team needed, putting up some zeroes on the board. It’s a process with all these young kids. You have to get a lot of guys experience and innings on the mound,” Litterio said. “Going into conference play, every pitch and every play has a lot more pressure on it. You couldn’t have planned it any better for these young guys, they know what it’s about going into the rest of the year.”
For updates on the Rutgers baseball team, follow Tyler Karalewich on Twitter @TylerKaralewich. For general Rutgers sports updates, follow @TargumSports.