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Rutgers baseball will stay home for in-conference series against Michigan

The Rutgers baseball team looks to carry its positive midweek momentum into its weekend series against the Wolverines. – Photo by Evan Leong

The Rutgers baseball team will be riding high before facing Michigan in another weekend series at Bainton Field on Livingston campus.

The Scarlet Knights (18-15, 2-4) are coming off two more mid-week victories against Seton Hall on Tuesday and Marist on Wednesday. The win against the Red Foxes (5-25, 1-5) came during the team's first-ever night game played under Bainton Field's brand-new stadium lights. Rutgers is now 9-0 in its midweek games this season.

The Knights will remain at home in Piscataway for a three-game series against the Wolverines (18-14, 6-3) this weekend.

Michigan has found recent success against conference foes. It swept Penn State in three games in late March, won its series against Illinois the following week and was able to win one game against a solid Nebraska team last weekend. The Wolverines are also coming into this series with decent momentum, as they had a 13-run and 13-hit performance this week in a win against Butler.

Michigan currently owns a .257 batting average with 28 home runs which puts them in the bottom three of those respective categories in the conference.

This weekend, Rutgers' pitchers can capitalize on the Wolverines' vulnerability to the strikeout. They struck out 281 times this season, putting them third in the conference in that statistic. In comparison, the Knights' batters have only totaled 206 strikeouts which is the least in the conference.

Ted Burton is a Michigan batter to keep an eye on. He currently owns a .296 batting average with a .905 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). Burton leads the team with 34 total hits and 5 home runs and has also totaled 26 runs batted in (RBI).

Cody Jefferis could also make an impact for the Wolverines at the plate and on the base paths this weekend. While his batting average and OPS statistics are not as good as Burton's, Jefferis is second behind his teammates in hits with 31 and RBIs with 23. The player is also a base-stealing threat and leads the team in stolen bases with a perfect seven steals on seven attempts.

Michigan owns a 5.59 combined earned run average (ERA) on the mound. Its pitchers have let up the third most hits in the conference, which Rutgers, with its conference-best 342 hits on the season, hopes to take advantage of.

Connor O'Halloran has been the Wolverines' best-starting pitcher this season. He has started in eight games, owns a conference-best 1.92 ERA and has a stellar .92 walks and hits through innings pitched rate (WHIP). He is the only pitcher in the Big Ten with an ERA below 2. O'Halloran has also punched out 63 batters across 56.1 innings.

Mitch Voit will most likely come out of the bullpen for Michigan this weekend. Voit has appeared in 11 games in relief and owns a 3.32 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP. Another bullpen arm for the Wolverines against the Knights will most likely be Noah Rennard, who owns a 4.17 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP on the season.

Rutgers and Michigan will start their three-game series off on Friday, with the first pitch scheduled for Friday at 6 p.m. at Bainton Field on Livingston campus. Saturday's game will start at 3 p.m., and the first pitch for the series finale is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sunday.

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

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