CLEARWATER, Fla. (May 20, 2014) – Having won 10 of its last 11 games to end the regular season, No. 4 seed Rutgers baseball is set to begin action at the American Athletic Conference Championship at Bright House Field in a pool play format. The Scarlet Knights will open against No. 5 USF Wednesday before playing No. 8 Memphis Friday and No. 1 Louisville Saturday. The winner of the pool will advance to the title game scheduled for Sunday.
Click here for the championship central page.
The Scarlet Knights (29-23, 14-9) are coming off a road series win at Memphis to conclude the regular season schedule. After dropping the opener, freshman Gaby Rosa (Perth Amboy, N.J.) and redshirt freshman Kyle Driscoll (Toms River, N.J.) combined for a shutout in a 7-0 win. Junior Vinny Zarrillo (Forked River, N.J.) sparked the offense with a three-run home run and a career-high four RBIs. Then in the finale, Rutgers pounded out 13 hits and redshirt freshman Kevin Baxter (Waterford, N.J.) pitched six effective innings to earn his fourth win in conference play. It was the fifth series win in the last six weekends.
The offense, which ranks second in the conference with a .282 team average, hit .327 in the final series at Memphis. For the season, senior Pat Sweeney (Sparta, N.J.) leads the team with a .342 average, while senior Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.) (.333), freshman Mike Carter (Bloomfield, N.J.) (.323) and Zarrillo (.306) are all over .300. Zarrillo also leads the attack with 38 RBIs as the cleanup hitter and senior Nick Favatella (Washington Township, N.J.) has a team-best 41 runs.
On the mound, sophomore Howie Brey (Middletown, N.J.) started the opening game of a series 10 times and totaled a 2.60 ERA, including two complete games. Rosa emerged as a starter in week four of the season and has developed into the second starter with no earned runs allowed in five of his 10 starts. He recently earned his fourth appearance on the American Weekly Honor Roll with six shutout innings at Memphis. Having started third the last three weeks, Baxter went 4-2 in league play and won his last three starts. Junior Jon Young (Old Bridge, N.J.) and redshirt freshman Max Herrmann (Rutherford, N.J.) lead the staff with 21 appearances.
Rutgers owns nine conference tournament titles between the Atlantic 10 and BIG EAST.