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Rutgers baseball sweeps Northwestern, winners in nine of last ten games



Ryan Lasko hit two homers in the sweep. Photo credit Tom Gilbert/Rutgers Athletics

Rutgers baseball kept rolling over the weekend with a three game sweep in the cold weather at Northwestern (6-28; 3-9). The Scarlet Knights have now won five games in a row and nine of its last ten overall.

On Friday, RU beat the Wildcats 7-1 behind a second straight sparkling performance from freshman Christian Coppola. He pitched six innings and allowed just one run on five hits. The rookie struck out five, walked two and produced 11 ground outs. The rookie improved to 3-3 overall but 2-0 on Friday starts since moving into the No. 1 role. Sam Portnoy pitched three scoreless innings in relief to earn his first save of the season.

Chris Brito led the offense in going 4 of 5 at the plate with 4 RBI and 2 runs scored. He drove in the first three runs of the game with a double and homer before hitting a second dinger late in the game. Evan Sleight hit a two run homer while Josh Kuroda-Grauer was 2 of 4 with 2 walks, 1 RBI and 1 run.

Despite snow flurries during warmups of Saturday’s game, the Rutgers bats heated up to produce 11 runs on 13 hits for an 11-7 victory. The first five hitters in the lineup had multiple hits with four having multiple RBIs. RU scored eight times in the first four innings to hold a commanding lead and never looked back.

Kuroda-Grauer was 3 of 5 with 3 runs and 3 RBI in the leadoff spot. Ryan Lasko homered and was 2 of 4 with 2 RBI and 2 runs. Brito stayed hot going 3 of 4 at the plate with 3 runs and 2 RBI. Sleight hit another homer in going 2 of 5 with 3 RBI and a run scored. Starter Grant Besser improved to 2-3 this season in allowing just one earned run and three hits in five innings.

In Sunday’s series finale, Drew Conover delivered a second straight strong start. He allowed just 1 run on 4 hits and struck out 9 batters in seven innings. The hard throwing Conover improved to 4-3 on the season. Lasko homered in back to back games and was the only Scarlet Knight with two hits in the 5-1 victory. Kuroda-Grauer drove in two runs as well.

Rutgers is now 24-16 overall and in a four-way tie for fourth place with a 7-5 record in Big Ten play. Following a midweek road game at St. John’s on Tuesday, RU will travel to Purdue for a pivotal three game series. The Boilermakers are 8-7 in league play and its another opportunity for the Scarlet Knights to move up the Big Ten standings.

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