Knights hitters eye rebound vs Hawks
After Columbia induced two ground outs and a strikeout, the Rutgers baseball team ended its game Wednesday with a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth inning.
Following a 13-2 loss to the Lions, where the Scarlet Knights were only able to collect five hits, head coach Joe Litterio was less than pleased with Rutgers’ performance and took no consolation in the loss.
“[I told the guys] we have to come out ready to play every game and that’s the bottom line,” Litterio said after the loss to Columbia. “We can use all the excuses in the world about how we played last night in a stadium atmosphere and then coming here today in the afternoon with not as many fans as last night. But bottom line is we didn’t come out ready to play.”
The Knights (12-17) have not had a practice since last Thursday — playing back-to-back weekend series and two pairs of midweek games, and always having an off day on Mondays.
This weekend’s series against Hartford (17-11) is the 13th game out of 15 where the Knights are the home team. That gives Rutgers a distinct advantage as it has hit .313 as the home team this season.
But Wednesday against the Lions, Rutgers duplicated no such success at Bainton Field.
The first four batters in the Knights’ lineup combined to hit 0-for-11, with not one of them crossing the plate in the game.
Throughout the season, the top of the lineup has remained consistent with freshman outfielder Mike Carter leading off, followed by senior infielders Nick Favatella and Brian O’Grady, with junior outfielder Vinny Zarrillo hitting clean up.
Overall the Knights hit approximately .319 one through four in the lineup, accounting for 81 of Rutgers’ 163 total runs.
The performance against the Lions could be an outlier for the Knights’ offense, as Litterio gives all the credit to the Columbia pitching staff.
“They threw two lefties at us back-to-back who kept us off balance and you got to give the credit to those guys,” Litterio said. “They gave us a tough time at the plate.”
For O’Grady, the down day against Columbia should not hurt the team moving forward, specifically today and this weekend against Hartford.
O’Grady is hitting .361 this season with 39 hits and 13 extra-base hits. His 62 total bases leads Rutgers’ next closest by 12 bases and his slugging percentage, .574 percent, is also a team-high.
The preparation started yesterday at the Knights’ only practice of the week, where O’Grady said Rutgers will have to forget what happened in Wednesday’s 13-2 loss against the Lions.
“You just have to go back and get to work. We played, probably as well as we have all season last night,” O’Grady said Wednesday postgame. “To have a letdown like this, it sucks, but you have to refocus and get ready for Friday.”
For updates on the Rutgers baseball team, follow Tyler Karalewich on Twitter @TylerKaralewich. For general Rutgers sports updates, follow @TargumSports.