Rutgers treks through season with Big Ten Tournament bid hanging in balance
The Rutgers baseball team’s season is far from over. With two weeks of regular season games left and a potential bid for the Big Ten Tournament in the works, the Scarlet Knights (16-24, 5-6) are far from done.
The season started as it has for the last two years — on the road to face a ranked Miami team in Florida. Rutgers headed into that series 0-7 against the Hurricanes. After two more losses to start their season, the Knights finally did it — they took a game against then-No. 17 Miami after exploding for 17 runs.
The win verified what the team knew all preseason — this team can hang with the best of them.
After a week of practices, Rutgers was on the road again as they faced another perennial powerhouse in then-No. 13 Virginia — playing against a ranked team for the second consecutive week to start the season. Things didn’t quite pan out as they did in Miami, as the Knights were swept on out of Virginia and headed home with a 1-5 record to start the year.
That wouldn’t last long as Rutgers bounced back with a win in its home opener against Wagner on February 28. It was the earliest baseball game played at Rutgers University in the team’s program history.
Not long after, it was time to hit the road once again — this time to Norfolk, Virginia to take on Old Dominion. After an opening game win by the Knights, the series ended in disappointing fashion as ODU took the final two games to take the series.
A midweek game win at Iona put Rutgers back in the win column and back on track as it got ready for a three-team, eight-game road trip in Florida during spring break. Over the road trip, the Knights would see North Florida, Florida Atlantic and then-No. 21 Florida Gulf Coast.
After splitting the four game set with North Florida, Rutgers would go on to lose the next four games and finish the spring break road trip 2-6.
Fresh off the disappointing road trip, the Knights would play Rider at home and try to gain back some momentum — however, it couldn’t. Rutgers went on to lose 7-2 and was mired in a five-game losing streak with a record that sat at 6-14.
A three game sweep of USC Upstate in Spartanburg, South Carolina was a much needed break for the Knights and showed just how tough this team can be. After a win against Monmouth at Bainton Field, Rutgers was now riding a four-game winning streak and just like that saw its record climb to 10-14.
The Knights were playing their best baseball of the season up until that point, just in time, as they were gearing up for a three-game weekend series against then-No. 25 Maryland at home — the first conference series for Rutgers on the season.
Just like that though, the Knights were swept at home.
After another loss to Villanova and sitting at 10-18 on the season, things were not looking good as Rutgers was about to go on the road and play a tough Minnesota team. A flight cancellation, however, due to inclement weather thwarted that series and maybe saved the season.
It remains to be seen whether or not that series will be made up, but after that weekend, the Knights took on Lafayette and made some history. With a 28-4 win, Rutgers scored the most runs in a game in its 147-year program history. Since that win, the Knights have been rolling.
A series win against Purdue at Bainton Field was followed by a series win against Iowa in Iowa City. After an 0-4 start to Big Ten play, Rutgers would win four of its next five conference games.
Also after that 28 run barrage, the Knights would score 5 or more runs in seven of its next eight games. Things were starting to click.
Rutgers headed into this weekend series against No. 17 Michigan at 15-23 and 4-5 in Big Ten games — good for eighth in the conference.
After upseting the Wolverines on Friday, the team dropped the next two, as it stands at 16-25 with a 5-7 record in Big Ten play and dropped a spot to ninth in the conference standings.
Up until this point, some individuals have stood out as well. Senior first baseman Mike Carter leads the conference in batting average and hits at .373 and 63, respectively. Carter also recently picked up his 200th collegiate hit. Senior right fielder Tom Marcinczyk is closing in on 200 hits as well. Sophomore centerfielder Jawuan Harris leads the Big Ten in steals at 23 and leads the team in home runs at seven, while freshman shortstop Kevin Welsh currently had a nine-game hitting streak broken on Sunday against Michigan, but up to that point was the longest on the team.
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