On Friday, the Rutgers baseball team will open its season in Houston, Texas, to take on Houston Baptist for a weekend series. The Scarlet Knights will look to build on a successful 2021 season in which they finished eighth in the Big Ten, their highest finish ever in conference play.
In the dugout, the team is led by head coach Steve Owens. Now entering his third season in Piscataway, Owens will undertake his first full and uninterrupted season, as his first season got cut short due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and in his second season, Rutgers only played Big Ten games.
At the plate, the Huskies will have to worry about sophomore outfielder Ryan Lasko, who was named to the Perfect Game Preseason All-Big Ten Team. Last season, he was named to the Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American team and led all conference freshmen with 11 home runs.
Junior infielder Chris Brito earned All-Big Ten Third Team in 2021 and is the leader in the infield. The hitters will look to continue their success from last season where they set Big Ten team season records in runs with 141, home runs with 35 and a .353 on-base percentage.
On the mound, the Knights are led by junior pitcher Dale Stanavich who along with Lasko was named to the Preseason All-Big Ten Team. Stanavich led the Rutgers pitching staff in 2021 with a 3.13 ERA and 11.74 strikeouts per nine innings.
The pitching staff is coming off of a successful 2021 season where they set Big Ten team season records in strikeouts recorded with 196 and saves with seven.
In the dugout for Houston Baptist is former MLB player Lance Berkman. This will be Berkman’s first season in charge of the Huskies.
Brennen Bales and Sebastian Trinidad are the key contributors for Houston Baptist. Last season, Bales was named to the Preseason All-Southland Conference Baseball Second Team and was fifth in the Southland Conference with a .356 batting average. Trinidad was the only Huskies player to start all 52 games.
The first game will be held at Husky Arena on Friday at 3 p.m. followed by a Saturday game at 2 p.m. before the three-game series will conclude Sunday at 2 p.m. The Knights will play a Houston Baptist team that finished last in the Southland Conference in 2021.
“I'm optimistic about every season,” said head coach Steve Owens. “I think that last year's success, along with the amount of returning players that we have from that team, put us in a good position.”
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