Rutgers names captains for 2020 season
In the 2019 season, the Rutgers baseball team finished the year with a record of 20-31 overall and 9-14 in the Big Ten. Losing 6 of their final 7 games played, the Scarlet Knights capped off their fifth-straight nonwinning season with a sweep at the hands of No. 21 Indiana, a school that had come into the series 14 games more than .500.
Based on what has been done so far this offseason, it is evident that Rutgers will look to perform at a much more competitive level.
One week after announcing they had signed four new recruits for the 2021 season, the Knights have now named their captains for the upcoming year. The four players who will lead the team range in experience, yet have been with the program long enough to understand that a source of leadership will be needed for the team to become relevant in the Big Ten.
Junior infielder Dan DiGeorgio is one of those players that will have to step up for Rutgers.
Last taking the field in his debut year for the program in 2018, DiGeorgio has a career .277 batting average in 50 games played for the Knights. In 188 at-bats, he tallied nine doubles, two triples and a home run.
Putting these numbers aside the team’s in 2019, it is clear that DiGeorgio will be among one of the top offensive contributors for a program that struggled at certain points last season to produce runs.
Along with the infielder, senior left-handed pitcher Eric Reardon will also hope to lead the program, though in a differing fashion from his teammate.
Accumulating a 6.06 career earned run average for Rutgers over the past three years, Reardon has struggled in his time on the field for the program. Last season alone, the pitcher gave up 14 earned runs in just 22 appearances from the bullpen while sporting a .70 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
In order to contribute to his team for the upcoming year, Reardon will have to provide a sort of lead-by-example leadership that aligns with more of the work ethic that head coach Steve Owens claims his players to have.
“I am thrilled to announce these young men as our chosen leaders for this year’s ball club,” Owens said. "They are all hard workers who set the tone in practice every day for what is expected.”
Reardon will also be accompanied in the captain’s role by fellow left-handed pitcher junior Harry Rutkowski.
Going into his third year with the program, Rutkowski has certainly improved over the past two seasons with the Knights. After pitching to a 5.34 earned run average in 13 games started for Rutgers in 2018, the lefty lowered the mark to 4.08 in 14 games started the following season.
Rutkowski also showed development in his command, increasing his number of strikeouts by 29 while decreasing the number of walks let up by seven.
He will hope to help a pitching staff that undoubtedly needs it after scratching and clawing its way through certain points in the season last year.
Hoping to ensure that his pitching efforts do not get wasted throughout the season will be fellow recently named captain, senior infielder Kevin Welsh.
Starting in all 154 games the Knights have played over the past three years, Welsh has been a symbol of reliability for the program throughout his tenure. The infielder gets on base on a frequent basis and cannot be taken lightly once he gets on.
Last year, Welsh was successful in 7 of 10 stealing attempts for Rutgers, tied for second on the team in terms of number of bases stolen for the program.
Welsh will hope to lead a batting lineup that is going to have to improve if the Knights wish to end the season with a more successful record.
This upcoming year will be a test for Owens as the first-year coach will inherit a team that has yet to produce a winning season since the program’s inaugural year into the Big Ten back in 2014. Luckily for him, Rutgers has a few players that will attempt to provide some assistance to the leadership both on and off the field.
The 2020 season will be telling as to how effective they are.
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