Baseball Hits Home Stretch

The Rutgers baseball team, currently in fifth place, will attempt to improve their seed in next week's BIG EAST Championship with a three-game series against second-place Connecticut at J.O. Christian Field in Storrs, CT. The series opens with a 3:00 p.m. game on Thursday and continues with 1:00 p.m. games Friday and Saturday.

Rutgers stands at 27-23-1 overall and 13-11 in the BIG EAST. The three games against the Huskies will wrap up the regular season for the Scarlet Knights, who have already secured a spot in the eight-team conference tournament at Bright House Networks Field in Clearwater, FL, May 23-27. Rutgers, currently tied with West Virginia for fifth place in the league, can move as far up as third-place in the standings on the final weekend of the season with a sweep of Connecticut and a sweep by Cincinnati over St. John's and two victories by Seton Hall over Louisville.

Sophomore shortstop Todd Frazier (Toms River, NJ), who was recognized by both the BIG EAST and New Jersey Collegiate Baseball Coaches Association earlier this week after hitting three home runs last week, leads Rutgers in batting average (.367), hits (73), runs (55), doubles (14), total bases (115), on-base percentage (.476) and stolen bases (21). His .367 average ranks 10th in the BIG EAST in overall hitting, while his .427 average in conference action is good for fourth-best in the league.

Junior third baseman Tim Querns (Cherry Hill, NJ) has provided a consistent bat for the Scarlet Knights all season, hitting .349 for the year. He has 59 hits on the season with 32 RBI.

Senior center fielder Jeff Grose (Iselin, NJ) has hit safely in 16 of his last 17 games, increasing his overall season average to .332. He has 68 hits, including 13 doubles, two triples and two home runs on the season, driving in 29 runs. Grose, RU's leadoff hitter, has also registered 12 sacrifice hits on the season, while stealing 10 bases. He is among the schools all-time leaders in at-bats (fourth), walks (t-fourth), hits (fifth), triples (t-eighth), runs (10th). The senior is also one total base shy of the top-10 with 288 for his career.

Senior lefty Matt Pustay (Hamilton, NJ) will start game one on the mound for the Scarlet Knights. He won his last outing, allowing just three runs on five hits with a career-high eight strikeouts last Friday at Georgetown. Junior righty Sean Spicer (Pearl River, NY) will get the ball in game two on Friday. He won his last decision at Georgetown and owns a team-best 6-3 record on the season. Freshman righty Matt Giannini (Watchung, NJ) is expected to starter for RU in the series finale on Saturday. After starting his collegiate career with four losses this season, he has rebounded with victories in his last five starts. Giannini owns a team-best 47 strikeouts in 55.1 innings this season.

Rutgers has hit more than twice as many home runs as Connecticut with 45 to the Huskies' 22.

The Huskies are 33-16-1 overall with a 15-6-1 conference mark, heading into a Wednesday contest with Rhode Island at home. Right fielder Josh Farkes leads the Huskies offensively, hitting .344 on the season. Bryan Maler and Austin Wasserman are both a threat on the base paths with 20 and 19 stolen bases, respectively.

The Rutgers bats will be tested during the series as all three of Connecticut's starter's are ranked in the top six in the BIG EAST in pitching. Righty Tim Norton leads the league with a 1.83 ERA. He is 5-2 on the season with 80 strikeouts. Norton will get the start in Thursday's series opener. Lefty Rich Sirois starts for the Huskies on Friday. He is sixth in the league with a 3.33 ERA and a 5-2 record. Righty Nick Tucci will start on Saturday. He ranks fifth in the conference with a 3.10 ERA. Tucci, 8-1 on the season, suffered his first loss in his last outing.

Rutgers leads the all-time series, 23-12, however the Huskies took two of three games from the Scarlet Knights in Piscataway last season. The series marks Rutgers' first trip to Connecticut in three years.

Scarlet Report Top Stories