The Scarlet Knights ended a four-game series on opening weekend with a 2-2 record. Rutgers played two games against both Indiana and Minnesota at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minnesota.
Coming into the season, head coach Steve Owens highlighted the team’s offense as an area that needed to improve. Rutgers was able to do some nice things using the bats over the first four games, especially against Minnesota.
In game one of the Saturday double-header, the Scarlet Knights scored 16 runs on 14 hits. They hit four home runs, including grand slams by Chris Brito and Evan Sleight. On Sunday, the Scarlet Knights fell behind 9-0 in the second inning but the power surge continued late. Danny DiGeorgio belted the third grand slam of the weekend for Rutgers in the top of the ninth inning. This was his second home run of the contest and he joined Brito and Jordan Sweeney as the Scarlet Knights with two home runs over the first four games.
Rutgers finished with eight home runs in the first weekend and have three players with six RBI’s so far. Sleight leads the team in hitting going 4-for-10 while playing in all four games, making three starts. Freshman Ryan Lasko has also made an impact going 3-for-10 to begin his career with two RBI’s and a double.
The early-season schedule will test the Scarlet Knights right away and it began on Friday night against Indiana, one of the favorites in the Big Ten.
Harry Rutkowski delivered a gem in game one of the season. He finished with eight strikeouts in six innings while allowing just one run on four hits. A fourth inning single by Grant Shulman gave the Scarlet Knights a 2-1 lead and proved to be the game winner. Rutkowski picked up his first win of the season while Brian Fitzpatrick delivered two perfect innings to close it out.
Rutgers dropped the second game against Indiana 4-2. The Hoosiers jumped in front 4-0 in the sixth inning and the Scarlet Knights were unable to get anything going offensively with just three hits. Brent Teller was given the loss allowing three runs, two earned, in 3.2 innings.
The Scarlet Knights have a deep and experienced pitching staff this season. They allowed just six runs over the first three games of the season before Minnesota jumped on them on Sunday. Both Rutkowski and Ben Wereski went six innings and allowed just one run. Rutgers had six relievers pitch at least one inning and now allow a run.
This is going to be the strong suit of the team and it was clear over opening weekend. With experience both in the rotation and the bullpen, Rutgers is going to pitch at a high level and it is going to keep them in a lot of games.
Rutgers allowed 18 earned runs in 34 innings this weekend, 13 of which came in the finale against Minnesota. They struck out 34 batters and walked just 10 while opponents are batting .259 against them.
The Scarlet Knights will face another tough test this weekend with a four-game series against Maryland in College Park.