Rutgers advances to B1G tournament semifinals with 5-4 win over Penn State

Rutgers baseball made history in more ways than one on Friday in Omaha, Nebraska. The No. 2-seeded Scarlet Knights outlasted No. 6 Penn State 5-4 to advance to the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament for the first time. Additionally, it was the 43rd win this spring for RU, which set a new record for most wins in a single season in program history. This dates back to the program formed in 1870.

Starter Nate Florence produced the pitching performance of the season for Rutgers by throwing over 8 1-run innings, 3 batts and 10 strikeouts. He took the mound in the 9th inning with RU leading 4-0 before allowing a walk and leaving the game. Ben Gorski came out of the bullpen but was unable to close out the game. The Nittany Lions scored 4 runs to tie the game and send it to extra innings.

In the 10th inning, Rutgers regained the lead when Richie Schiekofer hit a sacrifice fly to score Chris Brito. Sam Bello then came on as relief for a 1-2-3 set to seal the historic win.

“We got the team together and said ‘somebody’s going to win,'” head coach Steve Owens said. “We have to keep playing until the end. Our guys have been really good with that all year. That’s what a good team does. They move past the bad things that happened and they control what they can control. And our guys did a great job with that.

Chris Brito was 2 of 3 at the plate with 2 RBIs and scored the run of the game. Schiekofer went 1 of 4 but had 2 RBIs including the game breaker.

It was a shame Rutgers couldn’t wrap up the game for Nate Florence. However, that doesn’t take away from the dominant performance he delivered in such a quick start for his team.

“He was great today. He threw a lot of shots. He had a good change early, had a good break point in the middle and a lot of fastballs, “said Owens. “He stayed there until the ninth inning and we haven’t gone past five or six all year. I let him go because he kept doing his job and he did it really well. We had needed this length today and it was awesome.

Rutgers will play in the semifinals Saturday night around 10:00 p.m. ET. and will be broadcast live on BTN. They will face No. 8 seeded Indiana, who eliminated No. 4 seeded Illinois, on Friday afternoon, or No. 1 seeded Maryland, which lost to No. series No. 5, Michigan, 15-8, Friday night. The game is Saturday at 2 p.m. to determine who will face the Scarlet Knights on Saturday night. If RU can win, they will advance to the Big Ten Tournament title match on Sunday with two chances to earn a title match.

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