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Rutgers baseball brings seven game winning streak on road in key series vs. Nebraska

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The Scarlet Knights will look to continue to stay on a roll and near the top the Big Ten standings.

Ryan Lasko had the game winning hit against Monmouth on Tuesday.
Ben Solomon/Rutgers Athletics

Rutgers is one of the hottest teams in college baseball as they currently own a Big Ten best seven game winning streak. With a 22-6 overall record and 5-1 start in conference play, the Scarlet Knights are clicking on all cylinders as the league schedule begins to ramp up. It is their best start through 28 games in program history and they’re currently tied for first place in the conference standings.

Their latest victory came on Tuesday in a 9-4 win over Monmouth (12-14; 3-0) at Bainton Field. Trailing 4-1, the Scarlet Knights responded with eight unanswered runs. Ryan Lasko broke the game open in the 8th inning with a two-run double as part of a six run frame for RU. Freshman Sam Portnoy earned his first career victory with a perfect eighth inning in relief on just eight pitches.

The win completed an undefeated six game homestand over the last week. Rutgers swept a three-game series against Minnesota last weekend, outscoring the Gophers 26-8. A few days earlier, RU defeated NJIT 11-1 and St. Peter’s 17-1 in midweek contests.

Catcher Nick Cimillo has been a key addition this season after transferring into the program from Manhattan. He leads the team with a .423 batting average, a .527 on-base percentage, a .740 slugging percentage, 44 hits, 22 walks, 7 homers and 19 extra base hits. He has also done a masterful job of handling an entirely new group of starting pitchers.

Danny DiGeorgio is second on the team in batting average (.369), hits (38), RBI (27), and on-base percentage (.480). He also leads RU with eight stolen bases and is third with 30 runs scored.

Infielder Tony Santa Maria is having a great debut campaign after transferring in from Iona. He is hitting .356 with 6 home runs and a team best 34 RBIs. Santa Maria has a .644 slugging percentage and a .457 on-base percentage along with 28 runs scored and 17 extra base hits.

Overall, Rutgers has seven hitters batting over .300 this season.

Starter Jared Kollar transferred from Division II Seton Hill and has been fantastic with a 5-0 record and 2.66 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 7 starts and 40 2⁄3 innings. Opponents are hitting just .199 against Kollar this season. Hartford transfer Nathan Florence has also been a great addition to the starting rotation. He is 4-1 with a 3.19 ERA with 36 strikeouts in 31 innings over 7 starts. Opponents are hitting just .219 against Florence.

Out of the bullpen, Ben Gorski and Sam Bello have stepped up as key arms in middle relief this season. Gorski has thrown 18 23 innings in 10 appearances and has a 3-0 record with a 1.45 ERA. He has 20 strikeouts and opponents are hitting only .154 against the righthander. Bello has thrown 20 13 innings over eight appearances for a 1-0 record and 1.77 ERA. The righty has 17 strikeouts and holding foes to a .188 batting average.

Closer Dale Stanavich has been outstanding and virtually unhittable. He has a 0.55 ERA with 28 strikeouts over 16 13 innings, allowing just 7 hits. Stanavich has six saves over 12 appearances and opponents are hitting just .127 against the lefthander.

RU is greatly improved defensively with a league leading a .979 fielding percentage. The Scarlet Knights are also tops in the Big Ten in batting average and ERA. The conference is taking notice and you can hear analysis on Rutgers at the start of this B1G Today episode from earlier this week.

D1 Baseball released its midseason NCAA Tournament projections this week and Rutgers is included. The Scarlet Knights are currently projected as a No. 3 seed in a region that includes projections for Notre Dame as the No. 1 seed and host, Ole Miss as the No. 2 seed and Wright State as the No. 4 seed. RU last made the NCAAs in 2007 and is currently just one of three Big Ten teams projected by D1 Baseball to make the tournament. Maryland and Iowa are the others.

The Scarlet Knights will look to continue it’s hot streak this weekend on the road against Big Ten defending champion Nebraska. Rutgers swept them in Lincoln last season and will have plenty of confidence in their return to Memorial Stadium. The Huskers are off to a disappointing start this season with 12-15 record but they are 4-2 in league play, just one game behind first place Rutgers and Ilinois. Most recently, they swept Ohio State last weekend before dropping a 6-5 contest at nearby Omaha on Wednesday. If RU can win the series this weekend, they will continue to turn heads in the league after not being picked in the top six in the preseason poll.

Here is this weekend’s schedule for the three game series including how to watch with Rutgers on BTN for Saturday’s late afternoon contest.