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Rutgers baseball faces Nebraska in hopes of keep Big Ten winning streak alive

Sophomore infielder Tony Santa Maria and the Rutgers baseball team look to continue their hot start to the season when they travel to Nebraska for a weekend series. – Photo by Thomas Shea / Scarletknights

Rutgers baseball will look to extend its seven-game winning streak as the program heads up to Hawks Field at Haymarket Park in Lincoln, Nebraska, to take on Nebraska for a weekend series.

The Scarlet Knights (22-6, 4-1) have been red hot as of late, winning 9 of their last 10 games. In addition, Rutgers is currently on a four-game Big Ten win streak as the program's last loss came on March 25 to Penn State.

Meanwhile, the Knights are coming into this weekend after a 9-4 midweek win against Monmouth. Rutgers trailed the Hawks (12-14, 3-0) 4-1 going into the bottom of the sixth before the two sacrifice flies from junior infielder Chris Brito and freshman infielder Joshua Kuroda-Grauer brought in two runs in the bottom half of the inning. 

Then in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Knights completed the comeback by scoring six runs on five hits to enter the ninth up 9-4. From there, junior pitcher Dale Stanavich closed the door with three straight outs and two straight strikeouts.

“We put at-bats together, and we've been pretty good this year at doing that,” said head coach Steve Owens. “It's a good win for our team. It's a good confidence builder to come back from a deficit and win a game late at home."

Rutgers has had an incredible start to the season. The program has a .326 team batting average, which is first in the Big Ten, and are also first in the conference in runs, hits and runs batted in (RBI).

Junior catcher Nick Cimillo leads the offense and is second in all of the Big Ten with a .423 batting average. Sophomore infielder Tony Santa Maria is third in the conference with 34 RBIs.

The Knights are not just an offensive team, though, and have been great in all three facets of the game. The program’s 21 errors is least in the conference, while its 0.979 fielding percentage is top in the Big Ten.

Rutgers' pitching staff also sits first in the Big Ten with a 3.08 earned run average (ERA) and have held opposing batters to a .219 batting average, which ranks second behind Iowa. 

Graduate student pitcher Jared Kollar leads the starting rotation with a 2.66 ERA, six wins and 49 strikeouts. Meanwhile, Stanavich leads all relief pitchers with a 0.55 ERA, six saves and 28 strikeouts.

As for the Cornhuskers (12-14, 4-2), the defending Big Ten champions are coming off of a sweep of Ohio State last weekend and will play the Knights at home where they are 5-4 so far this season. 

Nebraska has mainly relied on its pitching to get wins, as evident by its 4.80 team ERA, which is fifth-best in the conference. On the other hand, the team’s .250 batting average is second-worst in the Big Ten.

The series will open up tomorrow at 7:35 p.m. On Saturday, Rutgers will play the second game of the series at 4:15 p.m. before finishing the series on Sunday at 1:05 p.m.

Big Ten Network+ will broadcast tomorrow's and Sunday’s games while the Big Ten Network will broadcast the Saturday game as the Knights look to win their third straight series in conference play.

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

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