Rutgers Baseball continues its midseason turnaround after sweeping a lowly Northwestern team over the weekend.
The Scarlet Knights have now won five in a row and nine out of 10 to improve to 24-16 and 7-5 in the Big Ten.
Friday, April 21: Rutgers 7, Northwestern 1
Rutgers got started quickly on Friday and set the tone for what turned into a successful weekend.
Josh Kuroda-Grauer led off the game with a double before Chris Brito traded places with one of his own to put the Scarlet Knights on top. Brito finished 4-for-5 with 4 RBI, including two home runs. The first inning double was hit No. 200 for Brito in his career.
Christian Coppola continues to be effective during his freshman year. He turned in his sixth consecutive quality start, tossing six innings and allowing one run on five hits while striking out five and walking two. Coppola is now 3-3 on the year and lowered his ERA to 2.97.
Evan Sleight launched a two-run home run in the sixth inning to give Rutgers breathing room at 6-1. Sam Portnoy closed out the game with three hitless innings.
Saturday, April 22: Rutgers 11, Northwestern 7
The offensive explosions continued at the plate on Saturday afternoon as the Scarlet Knights put up 11 runs in game two.
The Scarlet Knights hit a total of three home runs in the victory. In the first inning, Brito and Sleight delivered RBI doubles to put Rutgers up 2-0. The top five in the lineup totaled 12 hits, headlined by Kuroda-Grauer’s day going 3-for-5 with 3 RBI, including two home runs.
Sleight and Ryan Lasko launched home runs in the third inning before Kuroda-Grauer added a two-run shot in the fourth to put Rutgers up 8-1.
Sleight drove in three runs while Lasko added two RBI.
Grant Besser got the win on the mound after logging five innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits. Northwestern scored some late runs against the bullpen after Rutgers built an 11-2 lead.
The Wildcats scored five runs in the eighth and ninth innings but the Scarlet Knights were able to hang on for the win.
Sunday, April 23: Rutgers 5, Northwestern 1
For the third consecutive day, Rutgers took a first inning lead after Lasko scored on a balk. While the offense was hot over the first two days, Drew Conover was the story on the mound in the finale.
The Seton Hall transfer tossed seven brilliant innings, allowing just one run on three hits while striking out nine and walking three.
The Scarlet Knights added much-needed insurance in the fourth inning when Jordan Sweeney scored on a wild pitch and Kuroda-Grauer added an RBI single. Lasko launched his second home run of the series in the fifth to put Rutgers up 5-0.
Ben Gorski logged a scoreless ninth inning to close out a series sweep in Evanston, Ill.
Rutgers will be back in action on Tuesday during a road game against St. John’s. Big Ten action will continue this weekend from West Lafayette, IN as the Scarlet Knights will play three against Purdue.