OMAHA, Neb. (AP)Second-seeded Rutgers wasted all of a stellar start from Nathan Florence before getting a sacrifice fly from Richie Schiekofer in the top of the 10th inning to beat No. 6 seed Penn State 5-4 in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament on Friday.
Rutgers (43-14) set a program record for victories in a single season in advancing to Saturday’s nightcap. The Scarlett Knights opponent will be determined by play earlier Saturday. Penn State (26-28) will play an elimination game against No. 3 seed Iowa in Saturday’s first game.
Rutgers cruised into the bottom of the ninth inning with a 4-0 lead behind Florence. The right-hander struck out a career-high 10 batters, allowed just three hits and left after walking lead-off batter Cole Bartels in the ninth. Florence’s eight innings of work and 103 pitches thrown were season highs for the Scarlet Knights staff.
The Nittany Lions jumped all over Florence’s replacement Ben Gorski after Gorski retired his first batter on a foul pop. Matt Wood doubled to right to send Bartels to third and Josh Spiegel followed with a walk to load the bases. Anthony Steele drove in a run with a ground out that advanced the runners. Billy Gerlott cut the deficit to 4-2 with an RBI single and Johnny Piacentino followed with a two-run double to left field, advancing to third on a bobble by Mike Nyisztor to tie the game.
That was it for Gorski. Sam Bello (6-2) entered and after an intentional walk to Kyle Hannon, Bello struck out C.J. Pittaro on a 3-2 pitch to send the game to extra innings.
Steven Miller (3-4) took the mound in the 10th for Penn State and promptly hit lead-off batter Chris Brito with a pitch. Josh Kuroda-Grauer singled to right to send Brito to third and Schiekofer followed with his game-winning sac fly.
Rutgers scored the game’s first run in the top of the sixth inning on a RBI double by Nick Cimillo. The Scarlet Knights made it 2-0 in seventh when Kuroda-Grauer doubled and scored on a single by Schiekofer. Brito added a two-run single in the eighth.
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