Youth offers optimism at home
Aside from its connecting flight being unable to take off, forcing the Rutgers baseball team to take a bus from Louisville, Ky., back to New Brunswick, the spring break road trip was, for the most part, successful.
The success started with youth on the mound earning opportunities to collect innings and give the coaching staff a better picture of the rotation and pitching staff.
That began with a rookie on the rubber.
Freshman righthander Gaby Rosa earned two starts for the Scarlet Knights (8-12, 1-2) en route to the AAC honor roll award for the week.
Redshirt freshman lefthander Max Herrmann also earned his second win of the season in a relief appearance against Buffalo. Herrmann threw three innings and only surrendered two hits.
The youth on the mound was instrumental in Rutgers’ success. The appearances made an impact on head coach Joe Litterio, who was impressed.
“Like I’ve been saying all year, it’s a process with all these young kids pitching. I believe we started a freshman in the last seven or eight games,” Litterio said. “It’s a lot of guys we have to get experience in games. It’s still a process, but I think they are starting to find their roles and figure things out.”
With a mid-week game today, Rutgers will most likely send more youth to the mound as it hosts Rider at 3 p.m.
Facing top competition as a freshman does not affect his performance, Rosa said. The Perth Amboy, N.J., native believes his team has his back when he is on the mound.
“When coach told me I got the start, I was pretty pumped. I wanted to go out there and throw strikes and help my team,” Rosa said. “I knew my team was going to help me out with the bats because we swing it a lot. I was just trying to throw strikes and get ahead of hitters.”
Another success the Knights can look toward is their offensive production they have produced all season.
Freshman outfielder Mike Carter was a part of the hitting barrage that was able to reach base all spring break.
The experience going against top teams, such as No. 7 Louisville and No. 3 Virginia Tech, prepares Carter for games moving forward.
“Going through the season a little bit more, we start to see more pitchers. When we see more pitchers, we start to get more comfortable at the plate,” Carter said. “Moving on down the road, I think we will be all right. We were able to beat the No. 7 team, so we gained some confidence. Moving forward into other games, we feel we can beat other teams moving into conference play.”
The performances from Rosa and Carter, who both rebounded from a tough loss the day before in the victory against Louisville, kept Litterio optimistic for games moving forward.
After a bad outing, or difficult loss, it is beneficial to know the Knights can bounce back.
“It was a difficult loss the day before. We could have made a few plays here or there, and it would have been a different story,” Litterio said. “[For Carter] to lead the game off with a triple, just like Gaby, they set the tone early. They were able to change our play, the way we know we can.”
For updates on the Rutgers baseball team, follow Tyler Karalewich on Twitter @TylerKaralewich. For general Rutgers sports updates, follow @TargumSports.