Rutgers' bats struggle in shutout loss to Manhattan
Success demands to be earned.
The Rutgers baseball team (8-17, 3-3) got a taste of this harsh reality during its midweek home game at Bainton Field against Manhattan College (7-16, 3-3) March 31.
Handed a 2-0 loss at the hand of the Jaspers, the lethargic Scarlet Knights offense failed to get on the board.
Led by winning pitcher Tom Cosgrove's three-hitter in seven innings of work, Manhattan stifled Rutgers at the plate. The Knights offense was quiet for much of the afternoon, limited to just four total hits.
The lack of production at the plate left the result in the hands of the Knights' pitching staff — and the three lone arms prevailed as best as they could.
Sophomore right-hander Kevin Baxter kept Manhattan at bay during his six innings of work, limiting the Jaspers to four hits and pounding the strike zone to depart with an economical 66 pitches.
The lone run he surrendered came on a solo shot by Evan Brown in the top of the fourth.
"Kevin Baxter did a great job of keeping us in the game. All three of those guys came out and did well as expected," Litterio said. "The offense is what let us down."
Sophomore right-hander Colin Bohnert entered in the seventh, spinning a perfect frame of relief for Baxter.
But the following inning was a different story.
After a groundout to second and a fly out to center field to start the inning, Bohnert ran into trouble. Back-to-back singles placed the Jaspers in prime opportunity to scratch one more run across the board as they clung to a 1-0 lead late in the ballgame.
Litterio decided to go with Jon Young to get Rutgers out of the jam, but the senior right-hander allowed an RBI-single up the middle to push Manhattan's lead to two.
Young bounced back, though, retiring the next four batters he faced to leave the Rutgers with a very realistic shot to walk off with the win.
But the Knights didn't take advantage of the narrow two-run deficit.
Despite the top of the lineup due for Rutgers in the bottom of the ninth, the offense couldn't break out of its day-long slump.
With two outs and sophomore right fielder Tom Marcinczyk on second in the bottom of the ninth, the Knights had a prime opportunity unfold as Vinny Zarrillo, batting cleanup, came to the plate.
Representing the tying run, Rutgers suddenly posed a threat. But the senior left fielder couldn't ignite the Knights' rally, flying out to center field to end the game.
Though sophomore catcher Chris Folinousz his first career triple in the bottom of the fifth on a deep ball to the right center gap, the Knights behind him couldn't capitalize.
"I don’t think we came out ready to play," Litterio said. "I think it’s one of those games where we just think we’re going to show up and win a baseball game. We need to do a better job of getting on base and doing some damage."
Coming off of a conference series loss against Ohio State last weekend, the Rutgers was lethargic against its MAAC opponent.
The notion that Rutgers should have come out with more energy in their midweek game was universal among both coaches and players.
"I just think we were a little more relaxed than we should have been," Young said. "We’ve got to come out with more intensity. We should never have that mindset where, you know, you just think you can show up and play and win. I just don’t think that we all, as a whole team, played hard enough today."
The biggest take away from the fall to Manhattan lies in the realization of the necessity for an active hunger for runs and for a win.
The team continues their homestand April 1, hosting in-state foe Monmouth at 3 p.m.
After suffering back-to-back shutouts at the hands of Ohio State on March 29 and now Manhattan, it's no secret that the offense needs to return to form in order to get back into the win column.
To Baxter, that begins with the team's intensity.
"For Monmouth, we’ve got to come out with more fire and energy, more focus and really try to light up the scoreboard as much as we can," Baxter said. " I just think we have to focus and play hard in every aspect of the game from the guys in the dugout, the guys at the plate, us in the field, us on the mound."
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