Rutgers bides time on turf to prep for Myrtle Beach
Time goes by fairly slow in two weeks.
But after waiting 266 days to play its first game of the season, the Rutgers baseball team can wait a little longer to play game five on Friday against Old Dominion. After the weekend series was cancelled against Tennessee, two weeks marked the last time the Scarlet Knights (0-4) played in their season opener against then-No. 9 Miami.
The time off has made the season feel a little different, junior left-hander Mark McCoy said, something that he is not used to in the sport of baseball. He and the Knights had to wait.
“I think the two weeks off have helped us because we have got back down to the basics,” McCoy said. “We need to do a better job throwing strikes, getting ahead of batters and working on the fastball. The break gave us time to kind of fester about what really went down for us in Miami. (Last) weekend kind of helped us, just like a bye week in football, so I think we are just ready to play again.”
The series last weekend was cancelled against the Volunteers due to the string of adverse winter weather in the south, specifically the area between Tennessee and Virginia. With poor weather still expected in that area, Rutgers will move locations and play Old Dominion at the Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
The change in location does not hurt the Knights, head coach Joe Litterio said. However, bussing nearly twice the length of time length leaves some coaches and players rolling their eyes.
“I haven’t been to these fields,” Litterio said. “Usually the fences aren’t too deep. I believe they are 310 in left, 390 in center and I want to say 260 feet in right field. We will have some short fences to deal with, but that will affect both teams. The way the season is going, we just need to play. The craziness is for the staff to figure out — all the travel. For the players, we just tell them, 'We are driving another 5 or 6 hours to play a game.' I’m sure they are excited.”
When the Knights do finally arrive at a baseball field not covered in snow or ice for the first time in two weeks, it will be against an Old Dominion squad that fields a competitive team, Litterio said.
The Monarchs made it to the NCAA Regionals in the 2014 season, earning a 36-26 record, and finished fourth in their conference. While they return 16 lettermen, they lose seven players who started regularly out of a total unit of 11.
Sophomore shortstop Christian Campbell thinks Rutgers has the edge in experience against Old Dominion after they lost some of their veterans. Last season, the Monarchs took two out of three from Rutgers, winning 12-3 and 12-6 after losing the series opener 4-2.
“We played them last year and knew they were a good team,” Campbell said. “They were an older team last year — they had a lot of seniors. They are younger this year, but we aren’t going to take them too lightly. We just want to go out there and get our wins.”
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