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No. 24 Rutgers baseball sweeps Ohio State with offensive outburst

Junior infielder Chris Brito and the No. 15 Rutgers baseball team swept Ohio State this weekend to extend their winning streak to five. – Photo by Mike Lawerence / Scarletknights

Today, the Rutgers baseball team finished its series against Ohio State. The No. 24 Scarlet Knights (36-9, 15-3) swept the Buckeyes (13-26, 3-13) to remain in first place in the Big Ten.

Rutgers won a closely contested game on Friday. The Knights jumped to a quick 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning thanks to sophomore outfielder Evan Sleight’s two-run home run to right field. Ohio State would score a run in the bottom of the first inning and in the bottom of the third to cut the deficit to one.

In the top of the seventh, junior infielder Chris Brito and Sleight both hit solo home runs to increase the lead to three. Rutgers and the Buckeyes would both trade runs in the bottom of the eight before junior relief pitcher Dale Stanavich got the four-out save to secure the 6-4 victory for the Knights.

Graduate student starting pitcher Jared Kollar pitched five innings allowing two earned runs and getting four strikeouts in the win. Sleight had his first career multi-home run game to lead Rutgers.

"That was a high-level, intense game," said head coach Steve Owens. "We pitched well, we made zero errors and we had a really good offensive approach, and I thought we stuck with it."

In the second game of the weekend, the Knights got a comfortable 13-3 victory. Going into the top of the sixth inning the game was tied 1-1. In the top of the sixth inning, Rutgers used a two-out rally to score seven runs and break the game open.

With the bases loaded, two outs and a full count, sophomore outfielder Ryan Lasko hit a grand slam to center field. Later in the sixth with the bases loaded again, sophomore infielder Tony Santa Maria hit a two-run single to give the Knights an 8-1 lead. 

Ohio State was able to score two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, but Rutgers responded with a four-run eighth inning and a one-run ninth inning to win the game 13-3.

Graduate student starting pitcher Nathan Florence got the win pitching five innings, allowing two earned runs and recording nine strikeouts. Lasko had a historic day at the plate getting four hits, six runs batted in and three home runs.

"(Lasko) played incredible today. We needed those hits because it was a 1-run game in the middle of the game. The grand slam gave us (the) breathing room we needed. And then we were able to get a few more extra-base hits and extend the lead," Owens said.

The Knights finished the series with an 11-8 win to secure the sweep. The Buckeyes jumped on Rutgers early, scoring four runs in the bottom of the first inning. 

The Knights reduced the deficit to one run by the bottom of the fourth, but Ohio State scored another four runs to take an 8-3 lead. In the top of the sixth, Rutgers scored five runs to tie the game thanks to another three-run home run from Lasko.

In the top of the seventh, Lasko homered again to give the Knights a 9-8 lead, and the insurance runs came off of two solo home runs from Brito and junior catcher Nick Cimillo.

Stanavich came in to record his second save of the weekend and Lasko ended the series with five home runs.

Rutgers will look to extend its five-game winning streak when they go to Seton Hall on Tuesday before hosting a crucial weekend series with Maryland.

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

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