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Rutgers prepares for 3-game set at Old Dominion

Knights to travel down to Virginia for weekend series

Coming off a solid 11-4 victory over Wagner in its home opener on Tuesday, the Rutgers baseball team heads down to Norfolk, Virginia for a three-game set with Old Dominion. 

The series will begin on Friday with a 3 p.m. first pitch scheduled for game one. Game two will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday and the series will conclude with game three on Sunday with a 3 p.m. first pitch. 

The Scarlet Knights (3-4) clicked on all cylinders against the Seahawks on Tuesday but face a tougher task in the Monarchs (3-5) this coming weekend. 

Coming off a great year last season when it went 37-21 — including a 25-9 home record — Rutgers will be entering hostile territory, making the series that much tougher. Although its record is just 3-5 thus far, Old Dominion has had a pretty tough schedule to start the year, playing Iowa, St. Louis and Kansas State already.

The Monarchs will flaunt a very potent lineup against the Knights, boasting four starters with a batting average above .300, including senior infielder Culver Lamb who has been hot out of the gates, batting .433 with 2 home runs, six RBIs and 6 runs scored. Their lineup has shown collective power, as they have slugged 7 home runs in their first seven games. 

It is sure to be a tough task for the Rutgers pitching staff to contain Old Dominion throughout the three games, but if it is going to, it will rely on its power pitching to counter the power that the Monarchs present. 

Through the first seven games, the Knights' pitching staff has struck out 53 batters, coming out to an average of about 7.5 per game — almost a strikeout per inning. 

Leading that pitching staff has been freshman left-hander Eric Heatter, by pitching 10 innings to a tune of a minuscule 2.70 ERA, giving up just 3 earned runs and striking out 10 batters along the way.

Leading the charge offensively is junior center fielder Jawuan Harris, who broke out in a big way against Wagner on Tuesday. Harris went 4-5 including a 2-run homer in his first at bat — his first big fly and Rutgers' lone home run of the young season. 

He has also already stolen six bases this season, good enough for a share atop the Big Ten leaderboards.

As a team, the Knights offense has been solid, batting at a .278 clip, raking in 70 hits through their first seven games — a hefty 10 hits per game. The .278 batting average is currently fifth in the Big Ten, while the 70 hits is third behind only Minnesota and Ohio State. 

On the base paths, Rutgers has impressed early as it has done a good job of getting baserunners across home plate. The team ranks third in the Big Ten with 49 runs scored, again only trailing the Buckeyes and the Golden Gophers. Likewise, they hold the same ranking in the Big Ten in total bases with 89. 

If the Knights can keep getting runners on like this throughout the season, they are going to make some serious noise. They look to bring this mentality to Norfolk this weekend, looking for their first series victory of the season. 

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

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