For the last time as a Big East series, the baseball team will travel to Piscataway, N.J. take on in-state rival Rutgers this weekend.
The Pirates will come into the series hot, winning four of their last five games, including the two midweek games against in-state opponents. The two wins evened the Pirates’ overall record at 13-13.
The Pirates won the games by a combined score of 14-2, winning 9-2 against Rider on Tuesday and shutting out Princeton 5-0 on Wednesday.
Pitching was the key during the midweek games as the Pirates allowed only seven hits and struck out 22 batters.
“Pitching and defense wins championships,” second baseman Mike Genovese said. “In 2011, we were all defense, and got hot at the right time. Now we have a lot of seniors in the field and we know what it takes.”
Head coach Rob Sheppard said that the series against Rutgers is big because of the familiarity the teams have with each other.
“It’s big only because a lot of our guys played in high school against them and our guys know them well and we know their guys well, and it’s conference,” he said. “Unfortunately it’s the last time we’re going to play in-conference in Rutgers.”
In 83 all-time games, the Pirates are 40-43 against the Scarlet Knights. In 2012, the Hall went 1-2 against Rutgers in the regular season, but picked up a 6-1 victory against them in the first round of the Big East Championship.
“It’ll be good games,” Sheppard said. “I know they’ve been pitching really well, and we’ve been pitching really well. It’s going to be a battle.”
Rutgers enters the matchup at 13-12, but holds a 5-1 record in conference play, putting them in second place. The Scarlet Knights have won 10 of their last 13.
They are led by sophomore Vinny Zarrillo and senior Charlie Law. Zarillo leads the Big East with a .398 batting average, and Law is not far behind in eighth with a .357 average.
Genovese said the teams aver very similar in how they are prepared.
“They’re like us,” Genovese said. “They’re well coached they play good defense, they hit the ball well, they have good pitching.”
Sheppard said that the start of the season was tailor made for their current situation.
“Early on in the reason we played a challenging schedule was for this part of the season,” Sheppard said. “We started out with some really good teams, and now that we get outside and play consistently, it’ll help. I think we’ll continue if we continue to play consistent baseball.”
Genovese said he is confident that the weekend pitchers, seniors Jon Prosinski and Greg Terhune and junior Josh Prevost, can come out on top.
“It’s always a war, it’s always a battle,” Genovese said. “We don’t like them, they don’t like us. It’ll be a good game.”
T.J. Brennan can be reached at email@example.com.