After 30 seasons leading Rutgers’ baseball program, head coach Fred Hill retired Thursday. Assistant Joe Litterio, who coached the team in its season-opening series at Florida International last weekend, will take over the head job. The 79-year-old Hill had been on a leave of absence since the fall.
Hill came to Rutgers in 1984 after leading Montclair State (N.J.) to the Division III College World Series in 1983. His Rutgers teams made 11 NCAA tournament appearances, most recently in 2007, and had 19 30-win seasons. He won 12 regular-season conference titles (eight in the Atlantic 10, four in the Big East) and eight conference tournaments.
Hill’s 1,089 career victories rank 42nd all-time. He went 941-658-7 at Rutgers, where he’s the winningest coach of any sport in school history. Sixty-nine of his players went on to play pro ball, notables including the Reds’ Todd Frazier and the Rays’ David DeJesus. He also coached the only first-round pick in school history—righthander Bobby Brownlie, who went 21st overall to the Cubs in 2002.
Litterio played for Hill at Rutgers from 1990-93 and is in his third season on the RU coaching staff, where he’d been serving as recruiting coordinator. He does have previous head coaching experience, having led Wagner’s program from 2000-2011, winning Northeast Conference coach of the year honors in 2009, when he led the Seahawks to a school-record 31 wins.
“I am honored and excited to be taking over the Rutgers University baseball program,” Litterio said in a release. “Having had the privilege to be around Coach Hill as a player, a peer and an assistant has been beneficial to me. Being an alum, I will take pride in keeping the Rutgers baseball family together.”
On to Wednesday’s action:
Top 25 Upsets
• Jonathan Holder blew a rare save chance, giving up three runs in the ninth to Memphis as No. 7 Mississippi State took its second loss, 6-4. Left fielder Kane Barrow led the Tigers offense, going 3-for-4. MSU did get a strong effort from starter Ben Bracewell (6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 7 K), who left with a 4-1 lead.
• A day after coach Wayne Graham collected his 1,000th career win, No. 15 Rice was upset by crosstown rival Houston, 3-0. The Cougars’ Matt Locus (3.2 IP) and Tyler Ford (5.1 IP) combined on a four-hit shutout. Rice’s Matt Ditman (7.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER) was a hard-luck loser.
• Florida Atlantic scored twice in the first inning and led the rest of the way, downing No. 16 Miami 5-2. Despite the shaky beginning, Javi Salas (6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 7 K) turned in a quality start for the Hurricanes, but three Owls relievers combined on 3.1 scoreless innings to close things out.
Other Notable Games
• Mike Papi hit a grand slam and finished with a career-high six RBIs as No. 1 Virginia walloped William & Mary 17-2. Since losing their opener to Kentucky, the Cavaliers have outscored their last three opponents (VMI, UNC Wilmington and W&M) by a combined 36-4. Their home opener on Friday will be one of the weekend’s most anticipated games as the Cavs host Jeff Hoffman and East Carolina.
• Through four games, Vanderbilt’s starting pitchers have still yet to allow an earned run in 21.1 innings of work. Walker Buehler (5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 6 K, 2 BB) took the reins in Wednesday’s 5-1 win against Lipscomb as the No. 9 Commodores improved to 4-0.
• Twins Patrick and Eric Peterson combined on eight shutout innings for No. 6 North Carolina State against North Carolina A&T. The Petersons, who transferred in from Temple during the semester break after the Owls announced their program would be dismantled, were making their NCSU debuts. Patrick (5.2 IP, 3 H, 2 K) started and got the win, while Eric followed him with 2.1 innings of no-hit relief. Logan Ratledge homered twice to lead the offense in a 15-0 romp.
• No. 23 Florida scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth to avoid North Florida’s upset bid, winning 8-7. Second baseman Casey Turgeon got the go-ahead two-out single, his third hit of the game. All three of the Gators’ eighth-inning runs were unearned.
• Promising Oklahoma State freshman Garrett Williams made his first college start. Though he walked four, Williams navigated 4.1 scoreless innings against Alcorn State, fanning five. The Cowboys won easily, 16-1, improving to 5-0, their best start since 2008.