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Pitching leads Rutgers to series win over Michigan



Photo credit Tom Gilbert/Rutgers Athletics

Rutgers baseball won its first Big Ten series of the season in taking two of three games over Michigan this past weekend. Behind two dominant pitching performances, the Scarlet Knights won the first and third games of the series.

True freshman Christian Coppola took the mound in Friday night’s game and hurled eight shutout innings in a 13-0 victory. He struck out 12 batters including a nine pitch first inning to strike out the side. Coppola allowed just five hits and walked none in his first Friday start of his career. He improved to 2-3 with a 3.24 ERA in his rookie season.

RU made a statement at the plate as well in scoring 13 runs along with 18 hits. Ryan Lasko was 4 of 6 with 3 RBI and 2 runs. Josh Kuroda-Grauer was also 4 of 6 along with 4 runs and 2 RBI. Cameron Love was 2 of 5 with 3 RBI while catcher Andy Axelson also drove in three runs going 2 of 4 at the plate.

On Saturday, the Scarlet Knights jumped out to a 6-0 lead over the Wolverines in the first two innings. However, Michigan tied it in the top of the fourth inning before the game was suspended due to rain. It was resumed on Sunday morning and RU ultimately lost 13-8.

Rutgers bounced back quickly though and won the rubber match that afternoon 6-3. Drew Conover tossed seven shutout innings and allowed just three hits. He struck out six batters and walked three. Conover improved to 3-3 on the season and responded well in his first start in over two weeks.

The Scarlet Knights scored all six runs by the fifth inning before Michigan scored three runs in the eighth inning. Trevor Cohen was 2 of 3 with 2 RBI while Chris Brito and Cameron Love also has two hits. In addition to Cohen, Josh Kuroda-Grauer, Ryan Lasko, Love, and Jordan Sweeney drove in one run apiece.

It was a key series win for Rutgers who improved to 20-16 overall and 4-5 in Big Ten play. Michigan dropped t0 19-16 overall and 7-5 in league play. It was the first meeting between the two programs since the Big Ten Championship game last season in which the Scarlet Knights fell short. They outscored the Wolverines 27-16 in this series.

After a 4-1 homestand this past week in which the first two night games in Bainton Field history took place, Rutgers heads out for a critical eight game road trip. Over the next two weeks, RU will play midweek games at Monmouth and St. John’s on each Tuesday. The weekends will include a three game series at Northwestern, followed by at Purdue. The Scarlet Knights are currently tied for seventh place in the Big Ten and will look to make a late April push up the standings.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. pj43

    April 17, 2023 at 2:33 pm

    Good to see a big Ten series win, and to do it against Michigan is always extra nice. Hopefully, the pitching is beginning to come around to complement the hitting and overall solid defensive play.

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