September 23, 2019 | 85° F

Rutgers eyes improvements on offense in midweek matchup

Photo by Luo Zhengchen |

Senior first baseman Joe D'Annunzio believes that the Knights' offense has to step up at the plate and match the consistency of the starting pitching for Rutgers to return to winning in its midweek contest at Lafayette. He has started all 34 games this season.

When the Rutgers baseball team arrived in Bloomington, Ind., over the weekend, it came with the idea that it wanted to continue its stretch of timely hitting, clean defense and effective pitching.

After a sweep at the hands of Indiana — losing by tallies of 4-3, 6-0 and 5-4 — the consensus from head coach Joe Litterio and the Scarlet Knights was that the hitting needed to improve.

The recovery for the offense starts with the slate of two midweek games this week.

The Knights (11-23, 5-7) play Lafayette (7-18, 5-7) on Tuesday in Easton, Pennsylvania, on the road before a slate of six straight, starting with Columbia on Wednesday at Bainton Field.

Senior left fielder Vinny Zarrillo thinks the pair of midweek games will help to calm things down for Rutgers so that they can get back to baseball's fundamentals. The details are highlighted by having effective pitching, good defense and aggressive offense.

“We just need to get back to the basics,” Zarrillo said. “We need to play good defense, continue pitching well, getting runners in scoring position and then driving them in. We are looking forward to getting these next couple of midweek games to gain some momentum before we go into our home series this upcoming weekend against Michigan State.”

When the Knights matched up with the Hoosiers on Sunday, they committed three errors and failed to support the starting pitching of sophomore right-hander Gaby Rosa. Rosa pitched five innings and allowed only two earned runs on eight hits.

Senior first baseman Joe D’Annunzio said that the starting pitching this season has been on the rise and consistent of late, but the offense has failed to support them.

“The biggest thing we need to work on is executing,” D’Annunzio said. "(In the game Sunday against Indiana), we needed to get two bunts down that we didn’t. We have to score a runner when we have the bases loaded in the second (inning) and runners on almost every other inning. We have to get runners in with less than two outs and getting that big hit. We just have to keep working hard, play solid defense. Our pitching is starting to come around and our offense just has to pick them up all the time.”

While most weeks Rutgers would have the chance to practice before their midweek game, the NCAA forces college baseball teams to have one day off in a seven-day schedule.

The Knights had Monday off before their two midweek games, but Litterio said the squad needed to sharpen up on a few things in the games Tuesday and Wednesday before playing the Spartans this weekend.

“We have to have our off day on Monday due to NCAA regulations,” Litterio said. “Heading into the midweek, it’s the same as last week going into the midweek. We have to be able to — and we did it at Fordham last Wednesday — score the runners when he have the bases loaded. We have to start scoring runners and that’s the bottom line. We have to play unselfish baseball, execute and get the runs in that the defense is giving us.”

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

Tyler Karalewich

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