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No. 8 Rutgers baseball looks to protect Big Ten lead in weekend series against Iowa

Graduate student starting pitcher Nathan Florence and the No. 8 Rutgers baseball team have an important series this weekend against Big Ten foe Iowa.  – Photo by Steve Hockstein /

The Rutgers baseball team will look to bounce back when it takes on Iowa at Bainton field on Livingston campus this weekend. The No. 8 Scarlet Knights (31-7, 11-1) take a 13-1 home record into their home series against the Hawkeyes (21-12, 6-3). In the 2021 season, Rutgers took only 1 out of 4 games in the two teams' lone series against each other.

The Knights started off the week of games by extending their win streak to 16 with a 19-1 victory over Iona. On Wednesday, Rutgers recorded a loss for the first time since March 25, falling to Princeton 9-7.

On Tuesday, the Knights' offense put up 19 runs on 18 hits against the Gaels (1-30, 1-11). Rutgers used an 11-run second inning to take a double-digit lead and never looked back.

Freshman pitcher Wyatt Parliament got the start and pitched a career-high 5.2 innings, allowing no runs. Sophomore first baseman Jordan Sweeney went 4-6 at the plate, with five runs batted in and two home runs on the day.

Wednesday’s loss against the Tigers (5-24, 2-10) snapped the Knights' long winning streak.

Princeton used a two-run first inning and a four-run second inning to get out to an early 6-0 lead. Rutgers responded right away though, with a one-run third inning and then a six-run fourth inning to retake the lead.

The Tigers were able to tie the game in the top of the eighth thanks to a solo home run from Nick DiPietrantonio. In the top of the ninth, a two-run double from Matt Scannell helped Princeton take a 9-7 lead. The Tigers would win the game after a scoreless bottom of the ninth for the Knights.

"Today, we just didn't have enough," said head coach Steve Owens. "We had to get a couple more outs in the eighth to see what happened and we didn't get it done."

Rutgers has won 16 of its last 17 games due to its balanced attack of offense, defense and pitching. The Knights' .322 batting average is good for the fifth-best team batting average in the nation, and their 3.09 team earned run average (ERA) also puts them at fifth.

They are the only team in the country who is top five in both batting average and ERA. Rutgers also sits just outside the top ten in fielding percentage with a .979 fielding percentage.

On the mound, the Knights are led by graduate student starting pitchers Jared Kollar, Nathan Florence and junior relief pitcher Dale Stanavich. Kollar and Florence have packed a nice one-two punch for Rutgers as both hold a top 10 ERA in the Big Ten. Stanavich has eight saves on the season while recording a 0.93 ERA in 19.1 innings pitched.

On the other side, Iowa is coming off of a series sweep of Minnesota and a weekday victory over Bradley. The Hawkeyes are tied for fourth in the Big Ten.

Iowa has had great pitching all season as its 3.49 team ERA is the second-lowest in the Big Ten, only trailing the Knights. It has very solid hitting and fielding as its .276 team batting average is good for fifth, and its .378 on-base percentage is good for seventh in the conference.

The series will open up today at 2 p.m., continue tomorrow at 1 p.m. and conclude on Sunday at noon. Big Ten Network+ will broadcast all three games as Rutgers looks to win its fifth straight series in conference play.

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

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