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Rutgers welcomes St. Joseph's as homestand continues

<p>Junior outfielder Tom Marzinczyk hit the go-ahead triple against Fordham to spark Rutgers’ win over Fordham. He leads Rutgers in RBI with 24.</p>

Junior outfielder Tom Marzinczyk hit the go-ahead triple against Fordham to spark Rutgers’ win over Fordham. He leads Rutgers in RBI with 24.

The Rutgers baseball team will wrap-up its six-game home stand this weekend with games at Bainton Field against St. Joseph’s on Friday and Saturday.

The Scarlet Knights (12-16, 2-4) took advantage of their recent slate on the Banks, having won 3 of the first 4 games of the home stand and holding a 6-1 mark at their home field this season.

After beating Indiana twice last weekend to clinch their first Big Ten series victory of the season, they followed with a 5-0 shutout against Fordham on Wednesday afternoon.

For the first time in a while, the pitching and hitting seem to be in sync for the Knights, and it has resulted in some winning baseball.

“The more you play, the more confidence you start to get,” said head coach Joe Litterio. “We had some close losses early on where we were pressing a bit too much at the plate, but now we’re preaching more about just getting on base and letting your teammates pick you up.”

Rutgers has been getting on base more often as of late, and it has shown through the crooked numbers it has put on the scoreboard, especially at home.

In their seven games at Bainton Field, the Knights have scored at least 11 runs three different times.

Last week against Monmouth, they set a Bainton Field record by scoring 20 runs as they defeated the Hawks, 20-4.

“What’s going on now is that we’ve been getting a lot more two-out RBIs,” Litterio said. “That’s always a positive thing, and I harp on a lot because it really hurts the other club. As long as we keep doing that, we’ll be okay.”

The recent scoring barrage also had a big impact in helping the pitchers perform better and feel more comfortable on the mound.

Rutgers made a habit of getting on the scoreboard early in games, which helped its pitchers settle in and work with leads.

It helped freshman pitcher Serafino Brito (3-2) in the win against Fordham, as he was staked to an early four-run lead and threw five shutout innings to earn the win.

Getting an early lead is helpful for any pitcher, but it is especially so for a younger player who is still getting used to pitching on the collegiate level.

“It gives you a huge motivation when you’re pitching,” Brito said. “It helps you to focus on your pitches and where to locate on each pitch. It helps with anything because if you have the lead, you want to do all that you can to keep the lead.”

St. Joseph’s enters Piscataway with a 13-12 record, along with a 3-3 mark in the Atlantic 10.

Like the Knights, it too is coming off a shutout victory.

It blanked Villanova 8-0 on Wednesday and have won 7 of their last 10 games.

The Hawks have scored at least 7 runs in their previous three contests, so Rutgers knows that it will have to be ready to keep up with their scoring pace.

The first two games of the series will be contested at Bainton Field with the finale coming on Sunday at St. Joseph’s Smithson Field.

Junior outfielder Tom Marcinczyk has been a key player in the resurgence of the Knights' offense.

He leads the team with 24 RBIs and had the go-ahead RBI triple that sparked the offense in the win over Fordham.

As the offense begins to pick up some steam, he hopes to see the recent hot streak continue.

“It’s been very good lately because everyone has been stepping up, from the pitchers to the hitters,” he said. “The pitchers have especially been doing a great job and giving us some protection in the lineup, which makes our job a little easier. We just have to keep up with what we’ve been doing.”

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

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