Rutgers baseball will look to extend its 12-game win streak when it takes on Indiana at Bainton Field on Livingston campus this weekend in its fourth Big Ten series of the season.
The No. 22 Scarlet Knights (27-6, 8-1) take a perfect 9-0 home record into their home series against the Hoosiers (13-18, 2-4) and, for the first time since 2010, are ranked in the Collegiate Baseball Poll.
This is combined with dominant midweek wins from Rutgers against Lafayette and Penn.
On Tuesday, the Knights put up 23 runs against the Leopards (11-24, 6-5) in a 23-3 rout. Lafayette took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first off of a solo home run, but in the bottom of the first with the bases loaded and two outs, junior infielder Chris Brito hit a grand slam and from there, Rutgers would never look back.
“We didn't swing at balls, and they threw a lot of balls today. We got some hits when we needed them," said head coach Steve Owens after the win. "(Brito’s) home run set the stage for the day. (Freshman pitcher Wyatt Parliament) stayed out there, did a good job and threw more strikes. We played clean defense and everyone got a chance to get a couple of at-bats today."
Yesterday’s game against the Quakers (19-9, 6-2) was much closer as the Knights won 8-4.
Rutgers jumped to a quick 6-0 lead thanks to a two-run inning in the second and a four-run inning in the third.
Later on, with the score standing 6-4 in the seventh, sophomore first baseman Jordan Sweeney drove two batters in on a single to bring the lead back up to four runs. The bullpen handled the rest as the game ended in the Knights' victory.
Rutgers has been red hot in all three facets of the game so far this season. The program sits first in the Big Ten with a .326 team batting average and is the only team batting average greater than .300.
The Knights also sit first in earned run average (ERA) with a 3.10 mark as a team. Rutgers' fielding has also been superb as they are first in the Big Ten in team fielding percentage and are last with only 22 errors.
On offense, the Knights have been led by the trio of junior catcher Nick Cimillo, sophomore outfielder Ryan Lasko and sophomore infielder Tony Santa Maria. Cimillo is second in the Big Ten with a .416 batting average, Lasko is second in hits with 49 and Santa Maria is tied with Brito for second in the conference with 40 runs batted in.
On the other side, Indiana is coming off of a midweek win over Indiana State and a tight series loss to Purdue last weekend.
The Hoosiers have had average fielding and hitting all season, as they are fifth in the Big Ten in fielding percentage and eighth in the conference in batting average.
Where Indiana has struggled as a team is pitching. The program has a 7.26 team ERA, which is the highest in the conference. Meanwhile, Rutgers’ red hot offense has scored 19 or more runs in 2 of its last 3 games.
The series will open up tomorrow at 2 p.m., continue on Saturday at 1 p.m. and conclude on Sunday at noon. Big Ten Network+ will broadcast all three games as the Knights look to win their fourth straight series in conference play.
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