The first pitch for Rutgers Baseball is right around the corner and the team is gearing up for what it hopes will be another historic campaign.
The Scarlet Knights finished 44-15 last season, 17-7 in the Big Ten. They fell short in the Big Ten Championship Game to Michigan. Coming into the season, Rutgers is ranked 29th in the nation, according to a December College Baseball Preview.
With the season scheduled to begin on Feb. 17 with a three-game set against Campbell in Buies Creek, NC, we will breakdown each position group that Rutgers will go with this year.
Rutgers will feature a new-look rotation after losing its three starters from last season, not to mention closer Dale Stanavich. The good news is that the Scarlet Knights have reloaded with some talented newcomers and transfers.
It begins with Jake Marshall and Drew Conover.
Seton Hall transfer Drew Conover was a 20th-round selection of the Detroit Tigers but decided to honor his commitment to the Scarlet Knights. Conover has three solid pitches that can produce a strikeout at anytime. He is a future pro once his time is done with Rutgers.
Marshall, a transfer from Le Moyne College, has a chance to fill a starting role right away. At 6-foot-6, he brings an intimidating presence on the mound and plenty of experience going deep into ballgames. Last season, Marshall made 13 starts and went six innings in all but two. This includes three consecutive complete-game shutouts late in the year. Marshall logged a 3.27 ERA and struck out 108 batters in 85 1⁄3 innings.
Conover will start the opener on Friday while Marshall will be handed the ball on Sunday. In between will be freshman Christian Coppola.
Coppola spent four years pitching for Cedar Creek High School and ranked as the 19th right-handed pitcher in the state, according to Perfect Game. Coppola brings more size and an electric arm to the mound. Head coach Steve Owens believes he has a big-time talent for years to come.
“He caught our eye with his advanced pitching ability, athleticism and size,” Owens said. “He is an exciting player that we feel has a huge upside. We are excited about his addition to our staff and look forward to helping him develop to his potential.”
Marshall and Coppola have a chance to fill the top two spots in the rotation. There will also be plenty others competing for a spot to begin games.
Wyatt Parliament made eight starts last season. He logged a 3.15 ERA and allowed 25 hits in 35.1 innings. He will be in the mix for a starting spot but regardless, this is a name that will be featured out of the bullpen. The same can be said about John Modugno.
The Indiana transfer and New Jersey native was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team in 2021. He followed that up by working 17 games last season, including eight starts, and striking out 37 batters in 34 1⁄3 innings.
Ben Gorski was an innings eater out of the pen last season. The junior totaled 37 innings in 23 appearances and one start. He averaged one strikeout per inning and allowed opposing batters to hit .194 against him. Gorski enters as one of the most-reliable arms in the bullpen. Garrett French and Sam Bello also fit this description.
Stanavich was one of the top closers in the conference last season and the Scarlet Knights might have another on their hands. Bello, who pitched in 21 games after transferring from Maryland, will likely battle for the closing role. Regardless, the Scarlet Knights are strong in the backend of the pen. This will help win plenty of games when in control late. Bello pitched to contact and knew how to locate. He finished with a 3.30 ERA in 43 2⁄3 innings.
Ethan Bowen and Andrew Goldan are two freshmen that have a chance to grow and develop in year one. They decided to stay home and join a growing program at Rutgers. He averaged one strikeout per inning and allowed opposing batters to hit .194 against him.
Rutgers is well-balanced across the staff but remains a bit top heavy in terms of its right-handers. We are just two days away from answering all questions on the mound.