It has been seven years now since Rutgers decided to join the Big Ten. We have seen many teams work their way toward success and baseball looks like it is next.
The Scarlet Knights are off to its best start since joining the Big Ten after a series victory against Purdue this past weekend. Rutgers is currently 8-6 on the season. They have series wins against the Boilermakers and Ohio State while splitting with Maryland in a four-game series and Indiana and Minnesota in two-game sets.
A goal for Rutgers coming into the season was to improve at the dish and they are showing great power early on.
The Scarlet Knights currently rank second in the Big Ten in home runs with 24. Chris Brito has led the power surge with a conference-leading nine home runs and 26 RBI’s. He is also top 10 in average at .382, along with Mike Nyisztor who is hitting .393.
Coming into the season, the strong point of the team was supposed to be the pitching staff. Rutgers currently has a team ERA of 4.59 and is being led by their aces.
Ben Wereski has made four starts and holds a 3-0 record with a Big Ten-best 1.44 ERA. He has struck out 24 batters and walked just three in 25 innings. Harry Rutkowski continues to shine with a 2-1 record and 2.84 ERA to this point in the season. He recently had a stretch of 15 innings without allowing an earned run.
The Scarlet Knights are getting contributions from many players. Freshman Ryan Lasko has stepped up in his first season and is hitting .325 with three home runs. Jordan Sweeney is second on the team with four home runs while Evan Sleight has gotten comfortable as well.
Against Purdue in the series finale, Rutgers scored seven runs in the first two innings followed by seven in the fourth and was able to cruise the rest of the way. Winning a finale is something that the Scarlet Knights have struggled with and this win against Purdue was a big step.
“We challenged them to win a weekend on the road and be able to win a game on the last day, which we hadn’t done yet this year,” head coach Steve Owens said. “Really good hitting in the first five innings of the game by everyone. We rolled the lineup over in the first inning, scored more in the second and put the game away in the fourth.”
The Scarlet Knights currently sit in fifth place in the Big Ten at 8-6 and are just one game behind Northwestern for the fourth spot. They will welcome Penn State to Bainton Field for a three-game series in Piscataway beginning on Friday afternoon.