When Jawuan Harris took off for third base and dove in safely, he moved up the Rutgers baseball record books.
The third stolen base for Harris in Tuesday afternoon’s 7-2 midweek loss to Rider at Bainton Field was the 50th of his short career. The sophomore tied 13-year MLB outfielder and former Scarlet Knight David DeJesus (1998-00) for 10th all-time in the program.
While the accomplishment is notable, Harris has his sights set on greater achievements in the long term and better team play for Rutgers (6-14) in the short term.
“Maybe breaking a record down the line does mean something,” Harris said. “But right now, we’re just trying to play together as a team and find out what’s working, what’s not working and just figure us out. We need to go on a roll before conference play.”
His 13 steals in 17 attempts on the season ties Michigan State outfielder Brandon Hughes for most in the Big Ten.
Even with the achievement, coach Joe Litterio said Harris has room for improvement.
“He’s an athlete,” Litterio said. “He’s just an athlete with great speed. He should have more (stolen bases). He’s getting thrown out too much this year, running in bad times and slide steps (from pitchers) and all that kind of stuff. He’s got to learn more. He gets away with a lot of it because of his athletic ability.
“But to become an ultimate baseball player and he wants to go the next level, all those guys are athletic. So he’s got to learn the game and learn how to run and all that kind of stuff to do a better job there, but he is a good athlete.”
Senior captain Mike Carter, the No. 2 batter in the lineup behind the leadoff-hitting Harris, echoed those sentiments.
“He’s good, he’s quick,” Carter said. “He gets on base. He’s always a threat out there, so it’s nice to have someone like him on the bases.”
The base paths aren’t the only area where Harris is a threat.
To go with his .292 batting average and .414 on-base percentage, Harris is tied for the team lead in home runs with four.
Not even halfway through the season, Harris already surpassed his home run total of three from his freshman year.
“I’m being more aggressive, seeing different pitches,” Harris said. “So I think I’ve been attacking a lot more pitches in the zone early in the counts, which has been allowing me to get some more hits and then maybe some balls going out the park.”
The work from a full season spent with Rutgers football and strength coach Kenny Parker also pays off, Harris said.
“I think it helps a little bit, definitely,” Harris said. “If I got a little bit stronger, the balls are flying a little bit more, driving with a little more power as well as having a better aggressive approach at the plate.”