Pitching tandem propels Rutgers
After the originally scheduled Lafayette game was postponed Tuesday due to impending precipitation, the Rutgers baseball team picked up the action yesterday at Bainton Field.
With an unusual seasonal-low 48 degrees at first pitch, the Scarlet Knights were rebounding after a difficult 11-8 loss Sunday to Hartford in which head coach Joe Litterio said the team underperformed in all aspects of the game.
Rutgers sent freshman lefthander Ryan Fleming to the mound for his seventh start of the season.
By the time Fleming had left after the fifth inning, he had struck out six batters and allowed one earned run on only two hits, earning his second career win in the Knights’ 7-1 victory over the Leopards.
With his second win and quality outing in as many starts, Fleming carried few issues on the mound and his pitches were finding their spot.
“Everything was working for me, but my fastball was the main thing I knew I could throw for a strike,” Fleming said. “I was focused on mainly throwing strikes and letting them put the ball in play. I knew that my defense would be there.”
The appearance was Fleming’s second straight as a midweek starter, an opportunity that he is grateful for.
“I’m very honored [to be the midweek starter],” Fleming said. “It’s a good feeling definitely and I’ll do anything I can do to help the team.”
While the whole offense backed the pitching with nine hits and seven runs, freshman centerfielder Mike Carter stood out at the plate.
Carter went 4-for-5, recording a triple with two runs and two RBI.
“Today I was just seeing the ball well. I was being aggressive and getting pitches I could hit,” Carter said. “As a team we were real aggressive, taking advantage of mistakes and we got the hits when they counted.”
While Fleming earned his second career win, another Rutgers pitcher earned a career milestone.
Senior righthander Charlie Lasky collected his first career save after pitching four innings of relief after Fleming left the game. Lasky allowed only two hits and also struck out two batters, tossing an efficient 52 pitches.
Lasky provided a vital long-relief role to the team in his past two appearances, where he pitched seven innings of relief.
It is a role welcomed by Litterio, who could use a veteran on the mound who can eat up innings.
“We are still trying to find a role for a lot of our guys [in the bullpen] and I think we might have found one,” Litterio said. “He came in and ate up four innings and did it easy. It’s good to see because that kid wants to win and is not just happy with being on the team. He’s a kid that I know wants to be out there and wants to pitch.”
With a youthful team, Litterio knows that Rutgers is going to benefit — but also take some blunders — from some of the inexperience.
But coming back after a tough loss the last game, the skipper was happy the bad outing did not affect the Knights yesterday.
“There are a lot of young kids on the team. That’s the kind of year, a rollercoaster year, where we are going to be up some times and down some times,” Litterio said. “Today we were just lucky enough to where we put some hits together and stayed with it, broke it open and we were able to hold onto the lead.”
For updates on the Rutgers baseball team, follow Tyler Karalewich on Twitter @TylerKaralewich. For general Rutgers sports updates, follow @TargumSports.