Rutgers Wins Home Opener 11-3
By Adam Nardelli
The Scarlet Knights experienced nothing but success in their home opener at Bainton Field on Wednesday against Lafayette. Although Rutgers was 2-4 entering the game, they were coming off of a series win at George Mason over the weekend.
The bottom of the 1st saw plenty of action for the Scarlet Knights. Tom Marcinczyk got things started quickly off Lafayette starting pitcher Trevor Houck with a deep fly ball to the warning track. The ball sailed over left fielder Andrew Landolfi, bringing home RJ Devish who was already on second base, putting Rutgers up 1-0.
Sophomore Milo Freeman helped keep the scoring going for Rutgers. Freeman hit a bloop fly that dropped into center field, allowing Redshirt Senior Chris Suseck and Marcinczyk to score. In a blink of an eye it was 3-0 Rutgers.
The score remained the same through the 2nd and 3rd innings, with the Scarlet Knights offense failing to duplicate their 1st inning scoring show.
While Rutgers’ offense had troubles in the 2nd and 3rd innings, the same can be said for Lafayette. Rutgers starting pitcher Serafino Brito was dazzling to watch, not allowing a hit and compiling three strikeouts. His only hiccups were a hit batter in the 2nd inning and a 3rd inning error of his own. Brito attempted to tag Lafayette’s Andrew Landolfi on the 1st baseline, but failed to do so, allowing him to reach base safely. Aside from that, Brito worked through the Lafayette lineup with ease.
The top of the 4th inning was slightly a different story for Brito, allowing two singles to the Lafayette Leopards. Still, Brito forced a pop fly to left field with two outs, stranding Lafayette’s Andrew Landolfi and Campell Lipe, which helped continue Brito’s shutout through four innings.
The bottom of the 4th started similarly to how the 1st inning started for the Scarlet Knights. Freshman Jawuan Harris hit a double to center field followed by an RJ Devish walk, and 1st Basemen Chris Suseck took advantage of the two runners on base. Suseck hit a bomb to left field, which sailed over the fences for a three run home run.
“I was pretty aggressive early in the count. The last few weekends I’ve been kind of passive, kind of getting behind in the count. Today I was up with runners on base and I knew they were going to come at me so I was just aggressive”, Suseck said after the game.
Houck’s troubles continued in the 4th inning after left fielder Andrew Landolfi couldn’t hang on to a fly ball hit by Mike Martinez. Martinez and John Jennings, who was on second base at the time, both came into score, putting the Scarlet Knights up 8-0.
After Rutgers was able to put together 5 runs, the Lafayette coaching staff had enough of Trevor Houck. Houck was replaced with relief pitcher David Giusti, who was able to get out of the miserable 4th inning with a pop fly.
As the game moved to the 5th inning and the temperatures dropped, Chris Suseck’s success at the plate continued. Suseck hit a sac fly to left field, which allowed Jawuan Harris to score from third. Just previously Harris was able to steal third base for the third time in the game, showing how much the freshman can be an asset as a baserunner.
Brito was still on the mound at the start of the 7th inning, but soon it was a clear this would be as far as he could go. He quickly allowed 3 hits and 1 run to Lafayette in the top of the 7th, forcing Rutgers Head Coach Joe Litterio to make a pitching change. Left hander Ryan Fleming came into the game with the bases loaded and a score of 9-2. Fleming allowed one run in, putting the score at 9-3, but by and large he was able to get out of the jam.
The bottom of the 7th was also profitable for the Rutgers offense, with Chris Suseck again proving to be a force at the plate. Suseck obtained his fifth RBI of the day on a single to left field, getting the Scarlet Knights to double digits.
An active bottom of the 8th inning for Rutgers saw Gaby Rosa and Nick Matera both get on base with a double and a single respectively. Jawuan Harris snagged the first RBI of his career with a single to left field later in the inning, increasing the Scarlet Knights’ lead to 11-3.
Ryan Fleming had a virtually unblemished three innings of relief work after coming in for Brito. He closed out the game with a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the 9th.
Despite how well the Scarlet Knights played throughout the afternoon, Suseck felt there are ways they can improve, particularly with how the team approaches situations with runners on base.
“Early in the game we were kind of passive with it (being aggressive with runners on base), taking too many strikes, getting behind, getting ourselves out…but later in the game we were taking assertive action, hitting the ball”.
While the play of Chris Suseck was striking, the most encouraging aspect of Wednesday’s game was freshman starting pitcher Serafino Brito’s supremacy on the mound. He was dominant at times in the first start of his college career, giving up just two runs on five hits. It’s obvious Rutgers baseball fans have much to look forward to each time Brito takes the mound, both this season and for years to come.