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Rutgers hosts Lafayette in home opener

Junior outfielder Tom Marcinczyk, who hit a grand slam in the final game of the series against George Mason, is looking forward to the Knights’ home opener.
Photo by The Daily TargumJunior outfielder Tom Marcinczyk, who hit a grand slam in the final game of the series against George Mason, is looking forward to the Knights’ home opener.

The start of the baseball season is always an exciting time, no matter where the games are being played.

But there is certainly something extra special about the first home game, and the Rutgers baseball team will get to experience that on Wednesday afternoon.

The Scarlet Knights (2-4) will play their home opener at Bainton Field against Lafayette Wednesday.

Rutgers is coming off its first series win of the season, taking 2-of-3 games from George Mason over the weekend.

The Knights are ecstatic to return to play their first home game, hoping to ride the momentum from the all-around solid play they saw against George Mason.

“When you’re on the road for two weekends in a row, you want to be able to play in the home white (uniforms) and at your field,” said head coach Joe Litterio. “We’ve played pretty well at our field, and I know the team is excited and ready to get going for the season.”

Rutgers hopes to replicate or improve upon its success at home from last season, where it was 13-10.

After playing six road games to start the year and travelling to Florida and Virginia, the Knights have a sense of comfort knowing they can play a game in familiar confines without having to travel.

With the weather likely to start picking up, this early-season matchup at Bainton should set the stage for how Rutgers hopes to play at home this season.

“We’re very much looking forward to getting home for a game,” Litterio said. “Getting back on the bus after the weekend, we were talking about Wednesday, wondering what the weather would be like, and things like that.”

To beat Lafayette (0-3), the Knights will need to continue seeing the offensive production they received over the past weekend.

Senior catcher R.J. Devish was a big reason for the offensive outburst, in which the team scored 24 runs over the three games.

He reached base 11-of-14 times in the series, while gaining five hits and five RBIs.

He also launched his first career home run, and for his efforts was named Big Ten Player of the Week, making him the first Rutgers baseball player to win the award.

Early on this season, he is seventh in the country in on-base percentage (.682), third in the Big Ten in batting average (.462) and slugging percentage (.769).

Serving as a spark at the top of the order for the Knights, he hopes to carry his quick start to the season back home at Bainton Field.

“It’s great to come home to play on our field after being away for two weekends in a row,” the Beachwood, New Jersey, native said. “We’ve been successful there in the past and after taking the series (against George Mason), hopefully we can keep that up on Wednesday.”

It will be a short stay back in Piscataway for Rutgers.

After the Lafayette game, the team will be back on the road to play Old Dominion in a three-game series.

The Knights only play three home games in March, with its home slate only really starting to pick up in April.

Though it is just one game to be played back in familiar territory, Rutgers sees it as a chance to keep building some momentum in the young season.

“To get home and play the first home game in front of our crowd is always fun and gives us a chance to build on some things,” said junior outfielder Tom Marcinczyk. “We need to keep with the same pace we had over the weekend and bring it back home.”

For updates on the Rutgers baseball team, follow @Mike_OSully2 and @TargumSports on Twitter.