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Rutgers hosts Delaware State in midweek matchup

<p>Sophomore third baseman Milo Freeman said the fact that the bottom of the order is producing gives them an advantage. Batting in the bottom part of the order, Freeman is fourth on the team in RBI’s this season.</p>

Sophomore third baseman Milo Freeman said the fact that the bottom of the order is producing gives them an advantage. Batting in the bottom part of the order, Freeman is fourth on the team in RBI’s this season.

With the New Jersey weather finally beginning to heat up, the Rutgers baseball team hopes to do the same on Tuesday when it returns home for a midweek matchup against Delaware State (9-26, 9-5).

The Scarlet Knights (16-19, 3-6) look to turn things around after dropping 2 of 3 games on the road against Ohio State over the weekend, but there were highlights to take away from the series.

They received great pitching in games one and three, resulting in a 7-4 victory in the opener, but were unable to get the bats going in the series finale, falling 2-1.

As Rutgers returns home to play at Bainton Field, it is hoping the familiar confines on the Banks will put them back on the winning track with more conference games ahead.

“It’s a great thing about baseball that you quickly get a chance to get out there and face another opponent,” said head coach Joe Litterio. “It was tough over the weekend, but I know we’ll be ready. These guys are hungry and want to play.”

Bouncing back has been a recurring theme for the Knights all season long.

They have played many close games throughout the season, always seemingly to be in position to have a chance to win games, but finishing out games has been a problem. 

They have lost nine games by one-run, accounting for nearly half of their losses.

The issue has been different in each case with hitters not being able to break through to extend leads or the pitching not holding leads. 

These are common issues for nearly every baseball team at high-level competition, but Rutgers is confident in its abilities and believes it has what it takes to find some consistency moving forward.

“Everyone on our team is pretty confident, and we know that 1-through-9, we can all hit,” said sophomore third baseman Milo Freeman. “It’s definitely a big advantage to have when we can get production from all throughout the lineup, and I think we’ll see more of that in our next games.”

Freeman recently increased his productivity, along with his teammates towards the bottom of the batting order.

He belted his second home run of the season in the series against Ohio State and has moved up to fourth place on the team’s RBI leaders list with 18 this season.

The coaches said they were pleased with his progression and believe they will continue to see more impactful at-bats from him and the rest of the Knights in the coming games.

“The bottom of the order guys are really starting to swing it,” Litterio said. “They have been getting on base and getting in positions to score, which has really helped us a lot. Milo has been of those players for us that has given us a boost after a tough start. It’s been good to see him start swinging it better.”

The Hornets come to Piscataway riding a sweep over Coppin State. 

All nine of their wins have come in conference play in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. They are searching for their first non-conference victory of the year but will have a tough task ahead on Tuesday.

The Knights are 8-1 at their home Bainton Field this season, including a thrilling 3-2 victory over in-state rival Seton Hall last Wednesday.

Returning home should benefit Rutgers and give it a quick chance to rebound after falling over the weekend. The Knights are looking forward to the chance to assert their prowess on the Banks once again.

“We’re looking forward to trying to have a bounce back week,” said sophomore pitcher John O’Reilly. “Hopefully we can play well during the middle of the week and carry our momentum over to when we play Penn State this weekend.”

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

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