PISCATAWAY, N.J. - After a memorable collegiate debut, Eric Heatter of the Rutgers baseball team earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week in an announcement from the league office on Monday. The left-handed pitcher struck out eight in four shutout innings of relief to beat a nationally-ranked Miami squad in the series finale.
“This is a well-deserved honor for Eric,” head coach Joe Litterio said. “He went out there and competed, attacking the strike zone and keeping hitters off balance. This was a great performance to build from.”
Entering the game in the bottom of the fifth with a 7-5 lead, Heatter sat down the side in order on a pair of groundouts and a strikeout. He then left two on in the sixth before mowing down the top of the order on three strikeouts in the seventh. The lefty ended the outing by fanning three more, including a called strike three to strand the tying runs on base. The Hurricanes, who entered the weekend ranked No. 9 by Perfect Game and No. 24 in the coaches’ poll, were held to 1-for-6 with runners on.
The rookie finished with three hits and one walk surrendered and the eight strikeouts in the scoreless performance. The last Scarlet Knight freshman to pick up that many whiffs in his first appearance was Rutgers Hall of Famer Bobby Brownlie versus NC State in 2000. It was also the most strikeouts in a relief showing since Jason Downey had nine against Columbia in 2008.
This marks the fourth weekly award for Rutgers baseball since joining the conference in 2015, joining Milo Freeman (March 23, 2015) as Scarlet Knights to claim Big Ten Freshman of the Week.
RU (1-2) will return to Florida this weekend for three games at a neutral site against three different opponents in Port Charlotte. The action will start Friday with a non-conference tilt with No. 20 Indiana before contests versus St. Bonaventure and Boston College.