No. 22 Rutgers baseball kept rolling this week with back to back wins at Bainton Field as they continue to play well in all three phases of the game. The Scarlet Knights destroyed Lafayette 23-3 on Tuesday and followed it up on Wednesday with an 8-4 victory over Penn. Rutgers is now 27-6 on the season and remain atop the Big Ten standings with a 8-1 record. They have an RPI ranking of 31 and are solidly projected to make the NCAA Tournament with just under a month remaining in the regular season.
In Tuesday’s win over Lafayette (11-24), Chris Brito hit a grand slam in the first inning and the Scarlet Knights cruised to its ninth win by double digit runs this season. The Leopards struggled on the mound, walking RU batters 17 times along with hitting 3 batsmen with pitches. Jordan Sweeney hit two home runs off the bench as well. Wyatt Parliament started and went 5.0 innings to improve to 3-0 on the season. He allowed 2 runs on four hits and three walks, while striking out three on 85 pitches thrown.
“We didn’t swing at balls and they threw a lot of balls today. We got some hits when we needed them,” head coach Steve Owens said of the win. “Chris Brito’s home run set the stage for the day. Wyatt Parliament stayed out there, did a good job and threw more strikes. We played clean defense and everyone got a chance to get a couple of at-bats today.”
Owens added “It’s good to see Jordan (Sweeney) with a couple home runs,” Owens said. “He got some good swings off and the second one was really hit well.”
The following day, Rutgers outlasted a Penn team (19-9) that has the best overall record in the Ivy League and a top 40 RPI ranking. The Scarlet Knights jumped out to a 6-0 lead as Brito and Sweeney were factors once again. Brito had two RBI singles in the first three innings, giving him seven total over the two mid-week games. Sweeney knocked in a run in the second inning and then added two more RBI in the seventh frame.
The Quakers came to Bainton Field averaging 7.6 runs per game while leading the Ivy League in batting average and OPS. The Scarlet Knights pitching staff limited them to almost half below their season average and allowed just 7 hits in the game. Kyle Muller started and went 4 1/3 innings, allowing 2 runs. The bullpen took over and with the score 6-4 in the fifth inning, reliever Nate McLain earned his first victory of his collegiate career. He had an efficient outing, recording 4 outs on just 9 pitches. French Garrett, Sam Bello and Ben Gorski followed with a scoreless inning of relieve apiece.
“Penn is a really good hitting team, maybe the best hitting team that we’ve faced this year,” Owens said. “They’re physical, they have a lot of left-handed hitters, they swing it well and have a really good approach. Our pitchers did a really good job today.”
The Scarlet Knights remain focused and have played tremendously balanced baseball during the 12 game win streak. Coming off an impressive three game sweep at Nebraska last weekend, the Big Ten named slugger Ryan Lasko Player of the Week on Thursday. He went 8 of 18 with 3 home runs, 5 RBIs and 8 runs last week in four games played. He’s just the third Rutgers player to ever win the award and the first since 2019 when Carmen Sclafani won it.
Next up, Rutgers will host Big Ten foe Indiana for a three game series at home. RU is 9-0 at Bainton Field this season. They’ll play on Friday at 2:00 p.m., Saturday at 1:00 p.m. and Easter Sunday at noon. The Hoosiers come to Piscataway with a 13-18 record overall and 2-4 in Big Ten play. They’ve lost back to back conference series’ to Northwestern and Purdue. All three games will air on Big Ten Plus. If you plan to attend, it is free to do so but you need to register your car here, which is also free.