Rutgers hits the road to take on Old Dominion

It’s still early in the season, but a big win against Wagner after a rough weekend sweep at the hands of No. 13 Virginia was just what the Rutgers baseball team needed heading into this weekend. The Scarlet Knights (2-5) look to keep the balling as they once again head south to take on Old Dominion in Norfolk, Virginia.

With its first series against a non-ranked team this season, Rutgers hopes to come out on top with a series win. That might prove to be a tall order as the Monarchs (6-1) have gotten off to a hot start to begin their season.

“I believe they are 6-1, so obviously they are a quality opponent,” said head coach Joe Litterio. “I know their coaching staff very well, they are a well-coached team and they are going to come after us throwing strikes, but we have to go down there with the same type of approach.”

After a 9-2 win over Wagner on Tuesday afternoon in their home opener at Bainton Field, the Knights head into the weekend with some momentum.

Freshman second baseman Kevin Welsh was happy with the way his team went out and played and understands the importance of getting that win.

“It felt real good,” he said. “After the rough weekend in Virginia, to bounce back and get a good win going into the weekend and getting us ready for Old Dominion is huge.”

For more big wins like the one it had on Tuesday, Rutgers will have to play at a higher level than they played at Virginia. In the three games, the Knights committed 10 errors — six of which came in the middle game.

In fact, Rutgers has committed 14 errors in its first seven games to start the season, with only two games in which it hasn’t given the opponent extra outs. One of those games was the last time out against Wagner.

Coach Litterio is hoping to see his team show some consistency this weekend — on the field, on the mound and in the batter’s box.

“I’m hoping to see that we can start to put everything together,” coach Litterio said. “Against Wagner we showed a little bit that we have that ability of getting a lead and keep expanding. The previous week we weren't able to hold leads.”

Many of those errors and inconsistencies are just a result of early season rust. Even with their new training facility, it takes time and especially games for players to get into midseason form.

Senior shortstop Gaby Rosa, for example, uncharacteristically has five errors already early on this season, after only committing 11 errors in 54 games last season.

In the meantime, Rosa, who over this past weekend felt something in his groin in which he had offseason surgery on, is doing whatever he can to try and help the team win during his final season.

“I spoke with coach and told him that if he wanted I could be in the lineup as the designated hitter or come out of the pen and throw an inning or two,” he said. “I’m just here to do whatever it takes to get a win for my team.”

His knowledge and experience as a senior has also helped some of the younger guys on the team, like his double play partner Welsh.

“They’ve taught me a lot,” Welsh said. “The game has gotten faster (in college) and everything — getting signs and what to do in certain situation — but basically they’ve just taught me how to be a better baseball player in general.”

Litterio is beginning to see his team come together and hopes the team camaraderie translates to wins on the field.

“We're starting to put (it) together a little bit more,” he said. “I'm hoping this weekend we start to really be able to get the lead and hold it.”

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