Coming back home after seeing its bats come to life over last weekend against George Mason, the Rutgers baseball team picked up where it left off by bringing the offensive outburst to its first game at Bainton Field this season.
The Scarlet Knights (3-4) took care of business against winless Lafayette (0-5), winning their home opener for the eighth straight season by a score of 11-3.
It was a chilly day in Piscataway that resembled a late-season football game, but Rutgers was able to ride its momentum from last weekend and defeat the Leopards.
“It’s harder on both teams with the cold weather, and usually that gives the advantage to the pitchers,” said head coach Joe Litterio. “But I was very happy to see who everyone came out and swung it from the first inning."
The Knights recorded 16 hits, and they were scattered all throughout the lineup.
Things got started quickly for Rutgers in this game, as it went ahead early by scoring three runs in the top of the first inning.
Junior right fielder Tom Marcinczyk laced an RBI double to get the Knights on the board, and was followed by sophomore third baseman Milo Freeman, who singled in two more Knights to give Rutgers a 3-0 lead.
The Knights doubled their lead in the bottom of the fourth inning, as senior first baseman Chris Suseck launched his first home run of the season, a three-run shot, to put Rutgers ahead 6-0.
They added two more runs to make it a five-run inning, and led 8-0 after the end of four innings.
Suseck’s blast was the hit that broke the game open, and he relished in the opportunity to bring some runners home.
“It was good to get that home run,” he said. “R.J. (Devish) and Jawuan (Harris) got on base ahead of me, and it gave me a chance with runners on. I was aggressive in the count and tried to put a good swing on it.”
They also helped themselves by efficiently running the bases and being aggressive.
Freshman left fielder Jawuan Harris feasted on the base paths, stealing five bases, including third base three times.
He was also 4-for-5 at the plate, scoring two runs and adding his first collegiate RBI, making an impact all throughout the game.
Harris has been a spark for the Knights early in this season, and he wants to maintain an aggressive approach to his game.
“I try to get in the pitcher’s head,” he said. “It helps when you can try to stop him from throwing strikes and make him pay attention to the bases.”
On the mound, freshman Serafino Brito made his first career collegiate start, and put together a solid performance which helped maintain his team’s lead.
He completed six innings, scattering eight hits and allowing three earned runs, and earned his first win.
After running into some trouble, he was relieved by junior Ryan Fleming, who entered with the bases loaded and nobody out in the top of the seventh inning with a 9-2 Rutgers lead.
Fleming escaped by just allowing a sacrifice fly, and the Knights held a 9-3 lead heading into the seventh inning stretch.
He would go on to finish the final three innings of the game out of the bullpen.
Suseck continued his big day by adding an RBI single up the middle in the bottom of the seventh, giving him five RBIs on the day, and putting Rutgers ahead, 10-3.
He even added a stolen base in the inning, culminating a terrific all-around day from the veteran infielder.
His 3-for-5 outing raised his batting average to .357 on the season.
7 of the Scarlet Knights' 8 starters in the lineup recorded a hit in the game, which shows the kind of consistency and length they have been looking for out of their lineup in the young season and what they hope to carry moving forward.
“We’re deeper than we’ve ever been,” Litterio said. “Even guys coming off the bench were able to get hits, and I know we can definitely swing the bats. We’re starting to get a little more confidence.”