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Outmatched in Iowa: Rutgers baseball swept in road series against Hawkeyes

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Ethan Bowen gave up 2 runs in his lone appearance of the weekend, contributing to the Rutgers baseball team's pitching struggles. – Photo by Christian Sanchez

The Rutgers baseball team traveled to Iowa City, Iowa, where it got swept in the three-game series against Iowa. The Scarlet Knights (23-16, 3-9) were pecked out by a high-flying offense from the Hawkeyes (22-15, 9-6), who scored 28 runs on 22 hits.

As mentioned in The Daily Targum's preview of the series, Rutgers and Iowa were the two best-hitting teams in the Big Ten coming into the matchup. This weekend, the Hawkeyes proved that in spades, while the Knights went quiet at the dish. Below are the key takeaways from Rutgers' ugly series loss in the Midwest.

Rutgers' bats quiet in game one: Rutgers loses 8-1

On Friday, Iowa started things off with an unearned run on a passed ball in the first. Freshman infielder Ty Doucette would quickly equalize with a solo shot to right field in the second before the Hawkeyes picked up another run in the bottom of the inning.

After letting up a pair of runs, senior left-handed pitcher Justin Sinibaldi dialed in for the Knights and shut out Iowa for his next four innings pitched.

Rutgers' bats failed to help out its ace on the mound, though, remaining at just 1 run.

With the score still 2-1 entering the eighth inning, the Knights' bullpen failed to weather the Hawkeyes' late-game storm.

After the top of the eighth, which saw nothing for Rutgers but a lone double from junior infielder Josh Kuroda-Grauer, Iowa rattled off 6 runs off redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Sam Portnoy and junior left-handed pitcher Joe Mazza to put game one out of reach.

Sinibaldi was credited with his first loss of the season and now holds a 4-1 record. Despite his first loss, Sinibaldi has been remarkable this season, holding Big Ten teams to just 9 runs total across his four conference outings, including Friday's loss.

Batting practice for Iowa: Rutgers loses 15-5

The Knights took the lead early in game two, scoring 1 run in the first thanks to a sacrifice grounder by Doucette that scored senior infielder Cameron Love. After the first, Rutgers once again went silent.

Junior right-handed pitcher Jordan Falco started on the mound for the Knights. Falco pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the first, but the Hawkeyes would wake up in the second, lighting up Falco to take a 4-1 lead. Graduate student right-handed pitcher Jake Marshall entered for Falco to stop the bleeding.

Iowa wasn't done there, exploding for 8 more runs in the fourth.

Marshall got torched for those 8 runs, capped off by Kyle Huckstorf's grand slam. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Ethan Bowen entered for Marshall after the home run to end the inning.

Rutgers responded reasonably well in the fifth, scoring 4 runs. Doucette hit his second homer of the weekend, launching a 3-run missile to right center.

The game then went silent on both sides for the next couple of innings until the seventh. Graduate student right-handed pitcher Sonny Fauci entered for Bowen and gave up 3 runs to reach the final score of 15-5.

The Knights ended the day with five hits to the Hawkeyes' 14. Falco was given the loss, as Rutgers lost its third conference series of the season.

Bring out the brooms: Iowa completes sweep, Rutgers loses 5-1

The silver lining game on Sunday went just as badly for the Knights as the days prior. Sophomore outfielder Trevor Cohen recorded Rutgers' only hit of the entire game. The Knights were dismantled for nearly eight innings by 2023 All-Big Ten First Team pitcher Brody Brecht.

It was a slow day at the dish for Iowa as well, recording just two hits despite scoring 5 runs. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Christian Coppola started for Rutgers and pitched well, as he looks to return to his late 2023 form.

The Knights picked up their singular run in the eighth after freshman catcher Jackson Natili reached on an error to score graduate student outfielder Pete Durocher. Coppola was credited with the loss and moved to a record of 4-4 as the team fell in Iowa City.

Rutgers ended the weekend with just 7 runs and is near the bottom of the Big Ten standings with a 3-9 conference record, just above Northwestern, which sits at 2-10.

The Knights will look to bounce back from the weak weekend on Tuesday at home against St. John's at 6 p.m. before traveling to Bloomington, Indiana, for a weekend series against Indiana.

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

To view more of Philip Jaccoma's work, follow @PJaccoma on X.

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