Rutgers wins 3 of 7 games over Spring Break
With the school’s student body on Spring Break, the Rutgers baseball team remained at work throughout the week, playing a 7-game road trip in the south.
The Scarlet Knights went 3-4 during a week of many close games, but recorded a win against No. 16 Florida Atlantic last weekend, and closed with a 10-3 victory over NJIT on Saturday morning.
It was a long week that featured games in Florida and Maryland, and the Knights (8-10) were hoping to finish with a better record, but were pleased they hung in with tough opponents on the road.
“On a whole, we had some ups and some downs,” said head coach Joe Litterio. “We were in every game, which is what we will take from it. Every single game we played was a ball game where we had a chance to win.”
Rutgers got its trip started with three games against FAU, and it dropped 2 out of 3 in a very competitive series.
Each game was decided by one run, setting the tone for the remainder of a week that saw the Knights featured in many close games.
They followed that series by staying in the Sunshine State for a short 2-game set against Florida Gulf Coast.
Rutgers split the games, winning the second game by a score of 9-2.
The Knights saw the return of a key member of their bullpen over the break, as junior Christian Campbell made his season debut during the week against Florida Atlantic and then recorded his first win in the team’s victory over Florida Gulf Coast.
He threw three shutout innings, while also striking out three and not allowing an earned run.
His return gives the Knights another important piece in their bullpen with conference play approaching in the coming weeks.
“Having him back in the mound for the spring makes our bullpen a lot deeper,” Litterio said. “With his kind of stuff, he can also wind up being one of our starters. It brings more competition to the staff, which I love to have, and he’s very good and has a chance to help us out a lot.”
Senior catcher R.J. Devish led the offensive charge for the Knights in the win over Dunk City, recording three hits and two RBIs.
He carried over that production to close out the road trip.
After the Knights dropped a tough 3-2 game against Navy in Annapolis, Maryland, on Friday night, they bounced back on Saturday with a 10-3 win over NJIT.
That game was also played in Annapolis, and saw the offense bat around in the third inning to jump out to an early lead which Rutgers would never look back from.
Devish added a hit, along with two more RBIs and 2 runs scored.
He was a force during the whole trip, as he is now batting .404 on the season, tying him for the team lead in hits (23) with senior Chris Suseck, and leads the team with a .545 on base percentage.
His hot start has given the Knights a boost at the top of the order.
“Batting in the leadoff spot has helped me out a lot because I get to see good pitches,” he said. “I try to be patient at the plate, make the teams pitch to and finding good pitches to hit. Walking a lot has also contributed to my on base percentage.”
Junior Kyle Driscoll (1-2) pitched five shutout innings against NJIT to record his first win of the season.
He allowed just one hit in the outing, while striking out a season-high seven batters.
Sophomore John O’Reilly and freshman Kevin Romero finished the final four innings out of the bullpen to help the Knights hold on for the 10-3 win.
It was another game in which the Knights were forced to bounce back from a 1-run loss the night before, and they felt it showed good resiliency after some tough defeats.
“It was huge to finish with the win after having some tough losses during the week,” Driscoll said. “We have a good team and we all play hard and for each other, and the best thing about this sport is that you can always come back the next day and play again, leaving the last game behind you.”