Rutgers hosts Fordham in non-conference matchup
Coming off a Big Ten series win against Indiana over the weekend, the Rutgers baseball team (11-16, 2-4) will stay at home to play against Fordham at Wednesday.
The Scarlet Knights are 5-1 at their home diamond in Bainton Field this season, with their only loss coming when they dropped the final game of the series against Indiana.
They have proven to be more comfortable at home than on the road, as they have posted a 5-15 record away from home.
Fortunately for the Knights, their next three contests are at home, as they will also play two games at Bainton Field against St. Joseph’s over the weekend.
Playing within the confines of where they feel comfortable has served them well thus far, and they hope to continue that moving forward.
“These guys love playing at home and putting on the white (jerseys),” said head coach Joe Litterio. “We’ve been on the road for most of the season and everyone looks forward to playing at home, so it’s always exciting to play here, and we try to take advantage of it.”
The midweek games in the college baseball schedule really test the depth of a team.
With the top starting pitchers slated to pitch during three game series that happen over the weekends, each game during the week usually features a younger player on the mound and in the starting lineup.
All games count the same so Rutgers takes the same approach it usually does in order to try to win these ballgames.
“During these midweek games, we run out some freshmen and it helps them to gain some confidence going forward,” Litterio said. “We look at the matchups to see what we think would work best for the game at hand, and go from there. But we’re always doing our best to win these games.”
Fordham comes to the Banks with a 14-14 record and a 2-1 mark in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
It enter Wednesday's contest with some momentum, having won five straight games and 6 of its last 7.
The Rams have also shown a propensity to play solid baseball away from home, as they are 6-6 on the road this season.
It makes for a solid matchup between two teams looking to ride some momentum from recent wins, but the Knights feel as if they have the upper hand being at home for the game.
“We love Bainton. It’s awesome here and we all feel comfortable playing here,” said senior pitcher Howie Brey, who just won the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week award. “Every time we play here, we feel like we can beat anyone, so it’s always a big plus for us to be here in front of our fans.”
For Rutgers, a major development of late has been the production from the bottom of the lineup.
Junior infielder Christian Campbell has given the Knights a big spark since his return from injury, batting .444 in five starts, including a go-ahead 2-run double to beat Indiana in a game over the weekend.
Fellow infielders Gaby Rosa and Milo Freeman also played big roles in the games against Indiana.
They each added 2 RBIs apiece in the 7-1 complete game victory for Brey on Friday, showing the depth of the lineup which the coaching staff has been hoping to see throughout the season.
“Those guys can all hit, and it’s good to see when they do,” Litterio said. “We’ve been seeing some more depth in the lineup, and it’s what we expect because we know that everyone here is capable.”
Rutgers has won 3 of its last 5 games, which is significant because it had previously lost four straight games.
With three more home games the rest of the week, it hopes to continue its winning ways and stay focused on each game.
“We have a good vibe going, and we have to come out ready to play,” Freeman said. “Baseball is a long season, but we know what we can do and we’re playing together as a team, which is a good thing.”