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Pitching duo competes for final position in rotation

Rob Corsi stepped onto the rubber for his rotational debut Sunday against Miami (Fla.), ready to show the play that earned him MVP last year of the Rutgers baseball team.

The junior lefthander left the mound in the middle of the fourth inning with a 17.18 ERA.

Another Scarlet Knight reacted differently to the prospect of facing the No. 14 Hurricanes. Senior righty Ryan Fasano pitched one-run ball in six innings.

Corsi (0-1) makes his next start Sunday in a three-game series at Old Dominion. Junior Tyler Gebler opens the series today, junior Rob Smorol starts the second game tomorrow and Fasano is not in the rotation.

But according to head coach Fred Hill, nothing is set in stone.

“I don’t make decisions based upon one time out,” he said. “You have to be out there a couple times before we say, ‘OK, we have to change your role.’”

Hill stuck to his word by maintaining Corsi’s placement in the No. 3 spot in the Knights (0-3) rotation. Corsi has a chance to secure that position against the Monarchs (2-2).

The Shore Regional High School product is confident enough this time around.

“Next time I go out there, I’m going to have my off-speed stuff ready and throw some strikes,” Corsi said. “I got the jitters out of the way.”

Corsi’s other reason for confidence derives from his head coach. When the Knights ruled junior Nathaniel Roe out for the season, Hill gave Corsi the nod in the three-hole.

“It makes me feel like everything’s OK. I’m not just going to get yanked,” Corsi said. “Pitching’s hard enough, but knowing they’re going to be behind you even if you have a bad start, you don’t have to worry about anything.”

Corsi turned in his 2011 team MVP performance with a 1.58 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 40 innings in relief.

Fasano often watched from the bullpen, but the Stony Point, N.Y., native also made six starts last year. His outing was a good argument to keep doing so, and Hill took notice.

“He’s not down the middle of the plate very often,” Hill said. “He changes speeds. That’s always tough on the hitter.”

Fasano exploited an impatient Miami lineup for six strikeouts while allowing only one walk in six 2/3 innings. The 6-foot-1 pitcher wants to start, but he will do what he can to help the Knights.

“I would like to, but if they want me in the bullpen for now, I’m completely fine with that,” he said.

Hill already needed to switch up roles this season because of injury and is adamant he is not afraid to continue.

That means the same for Gebler and Smorol.

Gebler makes his season debut as the Knights’ No. 1 starter, coming off a season in which he led all Rutgers starters with five wins and a 3.22 ERA.

Smorol (0-1) is working off a four-inning outing in the Knights’ season opener last Friday, when he allowed two runs in short work but also struck out six.

Corsi is in Gebler’s and Smorol’s position from a year ago as a relief pitcher turned starter. He knows the difficulty of the transition and trusts his fellow pitchers no matter his fate.

“It’s good competition, but no matter who you run out there, whether it’s Tyler or Rob or Ryan, it doesn’t really matter,” Corsi said. “If I stay in the rotation, that’s great. But if they want me in the bullpen, that’s fine. We’re a unit.”