July 20, 2019 | 85° F

Rutgers heads back down to Florida for tournament

Knights are coming off 1-2 opening weekend

Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez |

Coming off its first series of the year against Miami, the Rutgers baseball team will trek back down to Florida this Friday, as it heads to Port Charlotte to take on Indiana, St. Bonaventure and Boston College at North Charlotte Regional Park.

It was an up and down opening weekend for the Scarlet Knights (1-2) , taking 1 out of the 3 games against the Hurricanes. 

The biggest downfall for Rutgers was the starting pitching, as all three starters struggled in each of the three games. The biggest highlight was the bullpen, as it limited the damage, allowing just 1 run in all three games combined. 

The offense was inconsistent but improved each game, putting up 1, 5 and 7 runs, respectively, throughout the series. Expect the bats to wake up in Port Charlotte after shaking off the rust toward the end of the series last weekend.

The Knights will get the weekend started on Friday at 3 p.m., when they take on Big Ten-favorite Indiana. Although the Hoosiers are a conference rival, this game will not count toward Big Ten play. 

Indiana comes into Friday's game at No. 17 in the country. Rutgers will look to change that, carrying its momentum from the game-three win last Sunday against Miami. 

On Saturday, the Knights will match up with St. Bonaventure at 1 p.m. for a matinee game. The Bonnies have yet to get their season started and will have their first game on Friday when they take on Chicago State. 

To close out the weekend, Rutgers will have a morning matchup with Boston College with an 11 a.m. first pitch. The Eagles are coming off a very strong weekend, stealing 2 out of 3 games from a strong Santa Clara team out west. 

Before traveling to Port Charlotte, Boston College will make a pit stop in Fort Myers for an exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox, as Major League Baseball begins its spring training schedule. 

One player to expect more out of this weekend is freshman pitcher Eric Heatter, who was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week after his dominant debut last Sunday against the Hurricanes. Heatter entered the game in the fifth inning after the Knights put up a 7-spot in the fourth to take a 2-run lead. 

Heatter kept Miami at bay for four innings, giving up just three hits while striking out a staggering eight batters, punching out the side in the sixth and seventh innings. 

"This is a well-deserved honor for Eric," said head coach Joe Litterio to scarletknights.com about Heatters conference honor. "He went out there and competed, attacking the strike zone and keeping hitters off balance. This was a great performance to build from.”

This was just the second Freshman of the Week honor for Rutgers since joining the conference, with Heatter joining senior infielder Milo Freeman back in March 2015 as the only other recipient. 

After Heatter’s strong performance, don’t be surprised if he gets even more innings this weekend, if not a start, as the Knights aim to get back on track in Florida. 

For updates on the Rutgers baseball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

Stephan Zatz

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