Rutgers hosts home game after Sooners series
When the skies finally opened up this past weekend in Piscataway and gave the Rutgers community temperatures in the 50-degree range, the Rutgers baseball team was nowhere to be found.
The Scarlet Knights were in Oklahoma playing in a three-game series against the Sooners.
Today the Knights (4-8) have a chance to play at Bainton Field for their first game in Piscataway all season.
Rutgers had the opportunity to play Seton Hall last week at home, but that game was ultimately postponed.
With temperatures as high as 60 degrees predicted for today, head coach Joe Litterio decided to bump up the game against Hofstra (5-6) that was originally scheduled for tomorrow.
For the Knights, games at home this early in the season are rare.
“Usually we are on the road for the first 20 or so games. This year I decided to schedule some home ones in case the weather cooperated,” Litterio said. “We are going to have to get used to playing after an off day, since we have off Mondays. We’ll just go over mistakes from the weekend before the game and before we hit.”
Rutgers will look to build on its performance in the third game of its series against Oklahoma.
After dropping both games of their Friday doubleheader, the Knights came back to score five runs in the seventh and eighth innings Sunday to top the Sooners.
Rutgers’ perseverance is something Litterio is proud of.
“We did a lot of impressive things Sunday. The most impressive thing was that we bounced back from the game before,” Litterio said. “That was a tough loss and we had that game in our pocket. I was proud of the way the guys didn’t let that roll over into Sunday’s game. We were able to bounce back after falling behind, but win the game.”
The Knights continued their hot hitting against Oklahoma that they have produced all season.
Rutgers ranks third in the AAC in batting average, hitting .288 as a team.
Junior outfielder Vinny Zarrillo led the comeback efforts against the Sooners, going 4-for-5 while collecting three RBI and scoring two runs.
“It was good that we didn’t put our heads down and we could still leave on a positive note. I think the offense has been swinging it really well,” Zarrillo said. “We’re going to continue to do that all season.”
While the bats have been alive all season, Knights pitchers have gotten off to a slower start.
The season began grimly for junior right hander Jon Young.
Young was the second pitcher in the rotation entering the Knights opening weekend series, but only lasted three innings and allowed 10 runs on 13 hits in the game against Florida International.
Since then Young has been relegated to the bullpen, serving as the team’s closer.
Young has appeared in four games out of the bullpen and collected three saves for the Knights. He has only allowed six earned runs and nine hits in six relief innings pitched.
Entering the ninth inning Sunday with the bases loaded, Young recorded the final two outs to give Rutgers its only win against Oklahoma.
He was grateful for the trust and opportunities.
“I was put in during a tough situation and I was trying to do my job to help the team win the game,” Young said. “It feels great to know that the coaching staff has the confidence to put me in tough situations like the one Sunday.”
For updates on the Rutgers baseball team, follow Tyler Karalewich on Twitter @TylerKaralewich. For general Rutgers sports updates, follow @TargumSports.