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Rutgers baseball loses tight series to Nebraska Omaha

Graduate student starting pitcher Jared Kollar's 10-strikeout performance resulted in a no-decision as the Rutgers baseball team dropped 2 of 3 games to Nebraska Omaha over the weekend.  – Photo by Rutgers Baseball / Twitter

Yesterday, the Rutgers baseball team finished its weekend series against Nebraska Omaha. The Scarlet Knights (13-5, 0-0) lost 2 out of the 3 games to the Mavericks (7-12, 0-0). Both of the losses were by one run.

Rutgers started its series on Friday with a 1-0 loss. Graduate student starting pitcher Jared Kollar got the start for the Knights and pitched 7.1 innings, allowed zero runs and struck out 10 batters.

The game was tied in the bottom of the ninth with Rutgers junior pitcher Dale Stanavich on the mound. Stanavich walked the first batter he faced before letting up a single that would score the leadoff runner from second base and end the game.

The Knights had six hits in the loss but stranded 10 runners on base. Junior outfielder Richie Schiekofer and sophomore infielder Tony Santa Maria both had two hits in the losing effort.

“You got to get a hit with guys on base," head coach Steve Owens said. "We had two strikes on us all day, and then, we made weak contact with two strikes. We just didn't get it done offensively today.”

On Saturday, Rutgers’ offense bounced back in a 7-1 win to tie the series at a game apiece. 

The Knights took an early one-run lead in the top of the first on a double from junior catcher Nick Cimillo. Rutgers then put up three more runs in both the sixth and seventh innings to take a 7-0 lead. Nebraska Omaha would add one run in the bottom of the ninth as the Knights closed out the win.

For the second straight day, Rutgers pitchers held the Mavericks to one run. Sophomore pitcher Brian Fitzpatrick got the start and pitched five innings with zero runs and six strikeouts. Fellow sophomore pitcher Garrett French pitched two scoreless innings in relief.

In the series finale, the Knights lost an extra-innings showdown 3-2. The Rutgers offense had a great start, scoring two runs in the top of the first inning. 

Nebraska Omaha halved the deficit in the bottom of the first inning before tying the game in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Both team's offenses would then go cold as the score would remain 2-2 until the bottom of the 12th inning when the Mavericks would walk the game off with a double from Mike Boeve. Both of Nebraska Omaha’s wins in the series came from walk-off hits.

The Knights will look to bounce back this week when they take on Rider tomorrow. Rutgers then starts Big Ten play on the road against Penn State on Friday.

“We learned a lot about our team this weekend,” Owens said. “There were a lot of pitchers that really elevated their games this weekend and got to another level. We'll take the strengths that emerged this weekend and build from them.”

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

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