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Multiple late-game heroics help No. 8 Rutgers baseball team sweep Indiana

Sophomore first baseman Jordan Sweeney was the hero yesterday as Rutgers Baseball won its 15th straight game. – Photo by Dustin Satloff / Scarletknights.com

Yesterday, the Rutgers baseball team finished its weekend series against Indiana. The now No. 8 Scarlet Knights (30-6, 11-1) kept the long-standing recent tradition of the athletic program going by sweeping the Hoosiers (13-21, 2-7) at home.

Despite the sweep, Rutgers trailed in the eighth or ninth in all three games. On Friday, the Knights used a rally in the bottom of the eighth inning to win 5-3. Indiana scored the first run of the game in the top of the third inning before junior catcher Nick Cimillo responded with a solo home run.

The Hoosiers would take a 2-1 lead in the top of the seventh before sophomore outfielder Ryan Lasko hit a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game again.

Indiana scored another run in the top of the eighth with a bases-loaded single, but Lasko was able to throw the second runner out at home plate to keep the Hoosiers to only one run in the inning. 

In the bottom of the eighth inning, freshman infielder Joshua Kuroda-Grauer stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and no outs. Kuroda-Grauer hit a sacrifice fly to bring home the tying run. 

Later in the inning, with the bases loaded and two outs, sophomore outfielder Evan Sleight hit a two-run single to give Rutgers a 5-3 lead, its first of the day. In the top of the ninth, junior relief pitcher Dale Stanavich earned his eighth save of the season, retiring all three batters he saw.

Graduate student pitcher Jared Kollar pitched six innings, allowing two runs and striking out five batters. The defense also made many crucial plays to secure the win.

In the second game of the weekend, the Knights came back from another deficit in the bottom of the eighth inning. After the program put up one run in the bottom of the third inning and Indiana put up two runs in the top of the fifth inning, the Hoosiers led 2-1.

In the eighth, sophomore first baseman Jordan Sweeney stepped up to the plate for Rutgers with two outs and the bases loaded. Sweeney then hit a bases-clearing triple into the gap in left field to give the Knights a 4-2 lead.

In the top of the ninth, sophomore relief pitcher Ben Gorski got his first save of the season to give Rutgers the victory and its fourth straight series win.

"It was a great feeling," Sweeney said. "I just try to stay ready all game, be aggressive with a pitch in the zone and make it happen."

The Knights finished the series with a 10-9 win yesterday.

After Carter Mathison hit a grand slam for Indiana to give the team an 8-3 lead in the top of the fifth inning, the double-digit winning streak seemed to be in jeopardy. Rutgers was able to claw back and entered the bottom of the ninth inning only trailing 9-8. 

With one out, sophomore infielder Tony Santa Maria hit a solo home run to tie the game. Sweeney then hit another home run to walk off the game and give the Knights the 10-9 win and their 15th straight win.

Rutgers will look to continue building on the program's 15-game win streak when the team takes on Iona tomorrow, Princeton on Wednesday and Iowa in a weekend series. 

“Most teams give up when you give up a grand slam in the middle of the game and go down," said head coach Steve Owens. "This team doesn't give up. I'm really happy with the toughness that we're showing."


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


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