Rutgers strives to redeem Sunday letdown in home contest against Lafayette

<p>Head coach Joe Litterio thought Rutgers could benefit from extra practice after its 11-8 loss on Sunday. Litterio said the Knights cannot take any win for granted.</p>

Head coach Joe Litterio thought Rutgers could benefit from extra practice after its 11-8 loss on Sunday. Litterio said the Knights cannot take any win for granted.

The Rutgers baseball team expected different results Sunday in the series finale against Hartford at Bainton Field.

After already clinching the series with a walk-off win in the first game and roughing up one of the nation’s top pitching prospects in the second, the Scarlet Knights had plenty of confidence entering the third.

Head coach Joe Litterio echoed those sentiments Sunday, saying that the team came out thinking it was going to win.

With 14 runners left on base for Rutgers — with three errors from the defense — to go along with countless misplayed balls that turned into hits and a pitching staff that allowed eight runs in the last three innings on 12 hits, it is safe to say the Knights (14-18) underperformed.

Mondays are usually designated as an off day for Rutgers, as it has been all season, but Litterio considered adding an extra practice this week in order to prepare for Lafayette (10-18) today at Bainton Field.

After a poor showing Sunday, Litterio thought the Knights might benefit from an extra day of training during the week.

“I hope we come back focused. Tomorrow might not be an off day, I’ll have to think about that,” Litterio said Sunday after the 11-8 loss to the Hawks. “We have Sunday off for Easter, so we may practice tomorrow to get the focus back. We have to understand that we can’t just show up and win.”

Rutgers pitchers, who gave up eight earned runs, and the Knights’ offense, which failed to match the Hawks’ offensive output, both took blame after the 11-8 loss.

With the day off yesterday, freshman right fielder Tom Marcinczyk said it does not change the mindset heading into a game against the Leopards having not practiced.

 “We definitely have a lot of hitters in our lineup and I feel we can get the job done no matter what,” Marcinczyk said Sunday. “As you can see we came back, so runs scored against us are not an issue because we are a good hitting team. [With a day off between games] you just got to stay ready for the win. You got to get right back at it pretty much.”

Although the weekend series ended on a sour note — Litterio summed up the final game with the team’s failure on offense, defense and pitching — the weekend can be deemed successful after winning the series and the first two games.

Rutgers outhit the Hawks, 18-10, and outscored them, 8-4, in the first two games. The Knights also combined to leave only 12 runners on base in the first two games.

With the positives probably outweighing the negatives this past weekend, it leaves senior shortstop Pat Sweeney optimistic for today’s game against Lafayette.

“We have to keep doing what we are doing. I thought we played pretty good baseball this weekend and we saw a lot of good arms. I thought we had a lot of good at-bats,” Sweeney said. “If we keep swinging a little bit, and get a good outing from one of our pitchers, I think we’ll be in good shape.”

For updates on the Rutgers baseball team, follow Tyler Karalewich on Twitter @TylerKaralewich. For general Rutgers sports updates, follow @TargumSports.

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