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Rutgers opens season at Miami

The Rutgers baseball team will open its season in Coral Gables, Florida, against Miami from Friday to Sunday.

The Scarlet Knights will look a lot different this year. Gone are last year's junior outfielder Jawuan Harris and junior catcher Nick Matera. Last year's senior pitcher John O’Reilly is also no longer on the team.

Rutgers lost some power hitters in senior infielders Milo Freeman and Kyle Walker, along with fifth-year senior infielder Chris Folinusz. 

On top of losing all of these players, the Knights will be without sophomore shortstop Dan DiGeorgio. He's expected to be out until sometime in April as he recovers from an ACL tear that he suffered during the fall season practice. 

DiGeorgio was an All-Big Ten Freshman selection and hit .277 on the season last year. True freshman infielder David Soto is expected to fill the void until DiGeorgio is back.

Last year, the weekend rotation for most of the first month of the season was O’Reilly, sophomore pitcher Harry Rutkowski and freshman former pitcher Eric Heatter. Only Rutkowski is made out to be a staple in that spot again, with O’Reilly graduating and Heatter no longer with the program after transferring to Brookdale Community College.

Senior pitcher Serafino Brito will open Rutgers' weekend rotation on Friday. Rutkowski will start on Saturday and junior pitcher Tevin Murray will end the three-game series on Sunday. 

Brito struggled in his first start against the Hurricanes last year, and the team immediately made the decision to move him to the closer’s role for most of the remainder of the season. He made a start against Minnesota in the final series of the season at Bainton Field.

Rutkowski pitched to a 5.34 ERA last year and had a record of 4-6. He started off very strong, but faded late.  After a promising summer with the Bourne Braves in the Cape Cod Baseball League, Rutkowski was named to the 2019 Big Ten Baseball Preseason Honors List.

Murray has made 24 appearances over the last two seasons and has an ERA over five, but his pitching showed serious potential late last year. He will get the first crack as the Sunday starter for the Knights.

Junior pitchers Tommy Genuario, Kyle Gerace and Eric Reardon are prospective key pieces in the bullpen to follow the three starters this weekend for Rutgers.

The Knights lost 2 of 3 games in Coral Gables last year. Miami is led by ACC All-Freshman honoree and 2018 Freshman All-America shortstop Freddy Zamora.

The Hurricanes will start right-handed pitcher Evan McKendry, who had a 7-6 record and finished the season with a 3.52 ERA. He was also an All-ACC selection.

Miami's Chris McMahon will start on Saturday and Brian Van Belle will follow on Sunday.

Rutgers will look to improve on a 25-25 record (7-16) this season. It will be a tough task, as the Knights have lost a lot of talent at many positions. It all starts with the Hurricanes this weekend, their first of two trips to Florida before conference play starts.

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

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