PISCATAWAY, N.J. (March 14, 2013) – Rutgers baseball will begin its eight-game Spring Break trip with a three-game weekend series at Richmond, beginning Friday at Pitt Field. The trip will continue with two midweek games at VCU before heading out to Louisville for the BIG EAST opener the following weekend.
Rutgers (3-9) is the midst of 24 straight true road games to start the season, the most of any Division I team in the nation. The Scarlet Knights are also in a stretch of 11-of-14 games in the state of Virginia.
The Scarlet Knights dropped two of three in their last series at William Mary & Mary, but the starting pitchers allowed just two earned runs over the weekend. Senior Rob Smorol (Clark, N.J.) did not allow an earned run in seven innings in a Friday no-decision, while classmate Tyler Gebler (Toms River, N.J.) earned his first win of the series in the middle game by giving up just one run over nine innings with 16 groundouts. It was the seventh time in his career the right-hander tossed nine innings. Fellow senior Charlie Law (Mainland, N.J.) backed that performance up by striking out a career-high 12 batters in seven innings. He walked just one and surrendered one earned run in the first inning. It will be the fifth straight weekend RU will use the same pitching rotation.
Offensively, senior Steve Zavala (Randolph, N.J.) has taken over the team lead in several categories – batting (.390), slugging (.585), on-base (.479), runs (10), hits (16) and RBIs (7) – after going 6-for-10 with two home runs in the series against the Tribe. He earned a spot on the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll in addition to being named the NJCBA Division I Player of the Week. Zavala has reached base safely in all 12 games.
Richmond (14-3) enters the weekend having won nine of its last 10 games, including a midweek home-and-home sweep over George Mason most recently. The Spiders own a 12-1 record at home, having played just four road games thus far. Brett Williams (.443) and Nick Poulos (.421) both have batting averages over .400 to lead an offense which is hitting .304 as a team, while Friday start Zak Sterling has a 2.45 ERA to pace the pitching staff.
Head coach Mark McQueen is in his sixth season at the helm of the program after serving 13 years as an assistant coach previously.
Rutgers and Richmond have never met on the diamond coming into the series.
Rutgers will stay in the city of Richmond to take on VCU in a pair of 6 p.m. games Tuesday and Wednesday. It will be the first midweek contests of the season for the Scarlet Knights.