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Rutgers baseball off to fast start in 2022

Sophomore outfielder Evan Sleight and the Rutgers baseball team have already matched their win total from last season in the 2022 campaign. – Photo by Steve Hockstein / Scarletknights

Rutgers baseball is playing its first full season since 2019. In that season, the Scarlet Knights (16-6, 2-1) went 16-6 to begin the season. In 2022, Rutgers has jumped to a fast start, going 14-5 in its non-conference schedule. The Knights are also 2-1 in the Big Ten and 15-6 away from home.

So far, Rutgers has played five series. The program swept Houston Baptist and UNC Wilmington, and its only series loss has come at the hands of Nebraska Omaha. In stand-alone games, the Knights have a 6-1 record.

A huge reason for this early success is the Rutgers offense. In the 2021 season, the Knights had a .257 batting average. Now, Rutgers leads the Big Ten with a .326 batting average. The team also leads the conference with 191 runs, 274 hits and 172 runs batted in (RBI).

The offensive charge has been led by junior catcher Nick Cimillo, who currently leads the Big Ten with a .439 batting average. Sophomore outfielder Evan Sleight is not far behind, sitting in fourth with a .392 mark for the season. Cimillo also leads the conference with 36 hits while sophomore outfielder Ryan Lasko is second with 33.

Lasko also is first in the Big Ten with 27 runs scored and third in doubles with nine. Sophomore infielder Tony Santa Maria has also been instrumental to the Knights' hot offensive start, sitting in fifth in the conference with 25 RBIs.

Rutgers’ fielding has also taken a massive step up this season. Currently, the program is tied for second to last with only 17 errors and are tied with Purdue for first in fielding percentage. This is already a huge improvement from 2021 when the Knights were ninth in the Big Ten with a .966 fielding percentage.

Rutgers’ pitching has improved in 2022 as well, as the Knights currently hold a 3.48 earned run average (ERA).

Graduate student starting pitcher Jared Kollar has led the starting pitchers with a 2.60 ERA. Kollar also has been highly effective at getting opposing batters out as he has 39 strikeouts on the season. 

Graduate starting student pitcher Nathan Florence has also been productive for Rutgers with a 3.60 ERA and 32 strikeouts, and junior relief pitcher Dale Stanavich has five saves on the season. Stanavich also holds a 0.64 ERA and has 25 strikeouts. Sophomore pitcher Sam Bello has also been a crucial piece for the bullpen as he has pitched 17.2 innings with a 2.04 ERA.

The Knights have a chance to break the 20-win mark for the season this week as they host midweek games against NJIT and Saint Peter’s before a weekend series against Minnesota.

For more updates on the Rutgers baseball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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