July 18, 2019 | 72° F

Rider offers warm-up for UCF

Photo by Dennis Zuraw |

Senior shortstop Pat Sweeney said that Rutgers needs a productive week against Rider and Wagner in its midweek games in order to prepare for Central Florida in next weekend’s series.

The Rutgers baseball team made quick work of Cincinnati this past weekend, sweeping a three-game series when the Bearcats visited Bainton Field.

Each of the Scarlet Knights’ weekend starters won their respective games in the sweep, starting with sophomore lefthander Howie Brey. Freshmen righthanders Gaby Rosa and Kyle Driscoll followed him.

The sweep for the Knights (18-18, 6-5) was vital as it propelled Rutgers to third place in the AAC standings.

“The [in-conference sweep] is huge. Obviously going into the weekend we knew where we stood and we knew where [Cincinnati] stood,” Litterio said. “It was hopefully [helpful] in getting the tiebreaker and that’s what you are looking to do, get the tiebreaker in that situation. You put yourself in a position to make [the AAC Tournament]. Sweeping them was outstanding.”

Now, Rutgers faces two midweek games this week against a pair of non-conference foes.

The Knights host Rider today before traveling tomorrow to face Wagner in Staten Island.

The Broncs (11-22, 4-6) have struggled this season, allowing a 5.01 ERA and sporting only a .244 batting average. Rider presents an easier matchup for Rutgers in Piscataway, as they have 4-13 record away from Lawrenceville, N.J.  

While no team can be overlooked, the two midweek matchups can give Rutgers a boost entering this weekend’s series against Central Florida.

Rutgers currently has the longest winning streak in the conference at four straight — going back to last Wednesday’s victory against Lafayette — and has won six out of its last seven games.

If the Knights win the series against Central Florida, Rutgers will solidify itself as a top-three team in the AAC with more of a cushion in the standings.

Senior shortstop Pat Sweeney said the Knights could use an effective week to help prepare for UCF.

“We have to have a good week,” Sweeney said after Saturday’s win against Cincinnati. “We’ve got to get that momentum [going up against the top team in the conference next weekend]. We have two games this week, so we have a good week and bring it into conference play next week.”

Driscoll earned his third win of the season in Rutgers’ series finale against the Bearcats, striking out 11 batters.

For the redshirt freshman, the in-conference sweep against Cincinnati does more for the Knights than adjust their spot in the standings. It gives them a good mindset moving forward.

“[The sweep against Cincinnati] was big for our confidence,” Driscoll said. “We came in here wanting to win and needing to win. We really needed to set the tone and I think we did.”

For updates on the Rutgers baseball team, follow Tyler Karalewich on Twitter @TylerKaralewich. For general Rutgers sports updates, follow @TargumSports.

Tyler Karalewich

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