Rutgers hosts Ohio State at Bainton Field
After a slow start to the beginning of the season, the Rutgers baseball team is streaking — and this time, in a good way.
The Scarlet Knights (7-14, 2-1) began the year on a six-game losing streak, losing nine of its first 10 games.
But since then, they've started to turn it around.
The win streak for the Knights now sits at four straight. Having won its first weekend series of the season last week against Purdue, Rutgers now carries momentum into its first home series of the season this weekend against Ohio State.
With a home winning streak of 16 games — the second-longest active streak in the nation — the Knights feel they have momentum back.
“I think we have some nice momentum after these two midweek game wins,” senior left fielder Vinny Zarrillo said of facing the Buckeyes. “We’re excited for our first home series and we don’t ever want to be beat at Bainton Field. We’re going to come out swinging and give it our best shot. Coming off of our last weekend against Purdue, we are feeling pretty good. We’re just going to keep playing our game, we’ll take it to them and see what happens.”
Ohio State won’t be the easiest test for Rutgers this season. The Buckeyes (16-6, 2-1) share the same Big Ten mark as the Knights, but have dominated their non-conference schedule winning by an average score of over three runs per game.
Head coach Joe Litterio said he knows the challenge the Buckeyes present. As one of the better teams in the Big Ten, Litterio is aware of the significance this series with the Bucks.
“They are a good ball club — I think that’s what we are going to run into every weekend in the Big Ten schedule,” Litterio said. “They are a team that likes to run — a team like us. They are a team that is built like us, that is going to be a tough challenge ... I would hope that we take the momentum into the game.”
Litterio said after the Purdue series that sophomore right-hander Gaby Rosa will return to the rotation. Rosa, who had seen more action at second base and in the lineup as a hitter to begin the season, hadn’t been on the mound much as last season.
Rosa was one of the leaders on the bump last season and will be joining junior left-handers Howie Brey and Mark McCoy in the rotation. Rosa had been one of the key pitchers for Rutgers in 2014, posting a 6-3 record and an earned run average below three.
Brey said that if the Knights combine what they have done in the past four games with the fact that they have the home-field advantage, they should be competitive against the Buckeyes.
“They’re supposed to be a good team,” Brey said. “We’re just going to come out like we did against Purdue. We have to pitch well, hit well and field well. That’s what we have been doing well during this four-game win streak. We have been playing well in every facet of the game and that’s what we especially have to do against a good team like Ohio State. We feel like we are a different team at home — we play really well here at good ol’ Bainton Field.”
For updates on the Rutgers baseball team, follow @TylerKaralewich and @TargumSports on Twitter.