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Rutgers baseball sweeps Northwestern on Big Ten road trip

Sophomore infielder Josh Kuroda-Grauer was instrumental in the Rutgers baseball team's series sweep against Northwestern this weekend. – Photo by Tom Gilbert /

The Rutgers baseball team swept Northwestern this weekend in Evanston, Illinois. The Scarlet Knights (24-16, 7-5) improved their conference record with three consecutive wins over the Wildcats (6-28, 3-9).

Rutgers clinched its fifth straight win with a victory in the final game of the series against Northwestern today.

The Knights showed out on their road trip, scoring a combined 23 runs across the three-game stretch.

Game one started with a pair of run-scoring doubles from senior infielder Chris Brito and junior outfielder Evan Sleight. Rutgers took the early lead and stayed on that path with 2 more home runs. Brito added another long ball, while Sleight hit one out of the park as well.

Freshman right-handed pitcher Christian Coppola had another impressive outing in game one, as he threw six innings, giving up only 1 earned run and getting five strikeouts.

The Knights took a 7-1 victory over the Wildcats in a tone-setting debut in Illinois. 

Game two followed much of the same pattern. Rutgers’s powerful offense brought on an early lead, with home runs scattered throughout the game from several players. Sophomore infielder Josh Kuroda-Grauer hit 2 home runs, rounding out his game with three runs batted in (RBI).

The Knights controlled the pace of the game and most of the scoring up until the final two innings.

Northwestern fought until the end, scoring 5 runs in the eighth and ninth innings. That momentum was halted, though, as Rutgers cemented a series win with an 11-7 victory yesterday afternoon.

The final game of the weekend was played earlier today, with junior right-handed pitcher Drew Conover getting the start.

Conover pitched an impressive seven innings while only allowing 1 run scored on a wild pitch. The junior was dialed in for the series finale, striking out nine batters.

The Knights got the early lead once again, scoring on a balk in the first inning. Both teams were kept scoreless through their next few times up in the order, but Rutgers ended that drought in the fourth inning with Sleight scoring on a wild pitch, followed by a 2-run single from Kuroda-Grauer.

Junior outfielder Ryan Lasko picked up his second home run of the series today, topping off the scoring for the Knights in their 5-1 victory. The sweep vaults Rutgers up the Big Ten standings. Having seemingly found a good rhythm, this team is showing why it is a strong competitor in the Big Ten.

The Knights will be back in action on Tuesday as it faces off against St. Johns in Queens, New York. They will be eager to get another win under their belt before heading to West Lafayette, Indiana, to take on Purdue.

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

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