Yesterday, fifth-year senior infielder Chris Brito hit his 43rd home run for the Rutgers baseball team to help defeat Penn State. The home run, which came in the fifth inning, moved Brito past Rutgers great Todd Frazier for the most home runs in program history.
At that moment, though, Brito was thinking of his team rather than his accolade.
"We needed an insurance run, so I felt like that was the perfect spot to hit the home run," Brito said.
But of course, when he crossed home plate, his record-breaking moment struck him.
"It felt really good," Brito said. "My teammates (were) coming out of the dugout and appreciating me for what I did."
Throughout his collegiate career on the Banks, Brito has always been a power hitter. After only hitting 3 home runs in both his freshman and sophomore seasons, Brito hit 26 long balls combined in his junior and senior seasons. Last year his 16 home runs helped the Scarlet Knights advance to the Big Ten Tournament championship.
Because of his home run-hitting ability, Brito usually finds himself in the heart of Rutgers' batting order. The infielder typically knows what to do from there.
"I always try to just hit the ball hard, and that’s my mentality always. If it touches the barrel, you know it's going to go. So that’s what my mindset is up in the box," Brito said.
This season, Brito is currently tied for the team lead in home runs with 11. He sits second in team runs batted in (RBI) with 45 and leads the team in walks.
"Early on, I didn’t contribute that much, but I knew I was gonna get it going, whether it was in the middle (of the season) or late (in the season)," Brito said.
Brito contributed in a big way when the Knights faced off against the Nittany Lions this past weekend. In game one of the series last Friday, the infielder hit a grand slam that tied Frazier’s home run record and put the game out of reach against Penn State. In the following game on Saturday, Brito scored 2 runs and tacked on an RBI in a 10-0 victory.
Brito's home run yesterday etched his name into the Knights' record books. Now Rutgers has vaulted up to fourth place in the Big Ten standings. As the Big Ten Tournament looms, Brito and his team are just focusing on the present.
"We’re just taking it one game at a time. We’re not looking ahead, and we’re just having fun right now playing for each other. And it’s working well right now."
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