Baseball Closes Regular Season at Northwestern

Matera had three hits on Tuesday and is at .301 on the season (photo by Rich Graessle)
May 17, 2017

PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Rutgers baseball will wrap up the 2017 regular season with a three-game series at Northwestern starting on Thursday. The set is the backend of playing eight Big Ten games in nine days and five on the road in five days. All three contests will broadcast on BTN Plus.

The Scarlet Knights are still in contention for a spot in the Big Ten playoffs, needing a sweep and help from around the league to jump into the top eight to qualify. One possible scenario is taking three this weekend, with Michigan State dropping two games versus third-place Michigan and Illinois falling once against fifth-place Iowa. Click here for the standings.

Rutgers (19-31, 7-13) at Northwestern (21-28, 10-11) - Evanston, Ill.
Game 51 May 18 - 4:30 p.m. ET
Probable Pitching Matchup Rutgers - TBA
Northwestern - LHP Cooper Wetherbee (2-3, 3.44 ERA)
Coverage BTN Plus | Live Stats
Game 52 May 19 - 4:30 p.m. ET
Probable Pitching Matchup Rutgers - TBA
Northwestern - RHP Hank Christie (4-4, 4.20 ERA)
Coverage BTN Plus | Live Stats
Game 53 May 20 - Noon ET
Probable Pitching Matchup Rutgers - TBA
Northwestern - RHP Josh Davis (3-2, 3.80)
Coverage BTN Plus | Live Stats
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SCOUTING RUTGERS
The Scarlet Knights started the road trip by taking two losses to Minnesota in a Tuesday doubleheader at Siebert Field. The games were added to the schedule to make up part of an April series that was called off due to travel issues. Sophomore Nick Matera led RU with three hits in the twin bill.

Before that, Rutgers staged a four-run rally in the bottom of the ninth inning on Sunday to take the series over Illinois. Senior Christian Campbell delivered a walk-off single, as sophomore Mike Martinez and senior Tom Marcinczyk previously knocked in runs during the uprising. It improved the Scarlet Knights to 3-1 in rubber games this season, also beating Purdue and Iowa.

The trip to Northwestern will complete the Big Ten circuit as the 12th and final park visited for the first time since joining the league in 2015. RU will have played each team home and away following this series. Heading into the weekend, Rutgers' Big Ten opponents have an 80-66-1 mark in conference play this season.

Senior Mike Carter continues to lead the lineup with .335 batting average on 70 hits, while Marcinczyk owns a .406 on-base percentage for the season and .453 in league play. He is tied for first in the conference with 36 walks drawn in 2017. Matera paces the offense with a .531 slugging percentage, totaling 16 extra-base hits.

Rutgers has launched 37 home runs this season, the most for the program since 2010. Sophomore Jawuan Harris has eight, Marcinczyk owns seven, with Carter and Matera both at five.

In a stretch of eight games in nine days, the Scarlet Knights' starting rotation has yet to be determined. Senior Ryan Fleming threw a season-high three innings on Tuesday and is at 25 appearances this year, needing one more to join the program top-10 list for games pitched in a single season. Fifth-year senior Max Herrmann owns 15 career saves in 85 career appearances, second-most in school history.

Rutgers has the No. 29 strength of schedule nationally this season according to D1Baseball.com and owns an RPI of 106. Out of the 12 previous weekend series, RU has played seven opponents that have seen time in the national rankings this season (Miami, Virginia, Old Dominion, Florida Gulf Coast, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska).

NOTABLE
Rutgers is 45-13 since 2015 when scoring at least six runs in a game and 16-5 this year ... the team entered the week hitting .313/.406/.480 since having no games the weekend of April 7-9, averaging 7.85 runs per outing over the 20-game stretch before playing Minnesota ... the Scarlet Knights lead the Big Ten having played 32 true road games this season ... the team will play in its 15th road venue this season and 49th since 2013 ... this will be the 18th different conference road stadium visited in the last five years ... Rutgers is sixth in the Big Ten with a .276 team batting average after being at .268 in 2016 (sixth) and .258 (12th) in 2015 ... RU ranks No. 31 nationally with 73 stolen bases.

SCOUTING NORTHWESTERN
The Wildcats vaulted into a tie for seventh place in the standings with a series win at Maryland last weekend. After falling, 7-1, in the opener, the team rallied to win, 11-3, on Saturday and triumphed in 11 innings on Sunday by the score of 6-5. Other Big Ten series wins this season include Iowa, Penn State and Purdue. Joe Hoscheit leads the team at .343/.421/.536 with five homers and 41 RBIs for the season, owning a .458 average in the league. Left-hander Cooper Wetherbee will start the series opener bringing a 3.44 ERA and a .273 batting average against into the game. Overall, Northwestern is hitting .252 with a 5.12 staff ERA.

Head coach Spencer Allen is in his second season. The series will take place at Rocky and Berenice Miller Park, which opened in 2016. Click here for more on Northwestern baseball.

THE SERIES
Northwestern leads the all-time series, 4-2, and won 2-of-3 last season in the first Big Ten meetings between the teams last May at Bainton Field. The Wildcats won 5-1 and 12-10 before Rutgers took the finale, 10-7. This weekend marks the first games in Evanston, Illinois.

UP NEXT
If Rutgers reaches the top eight in the conference standings, the Big Ten playoffs begin Wednesday in Bloomington, Indiana.

Follow Rutgers Athletics on Facebook and Twitter (@RUAthletics) for all of the latest news and updates. For specific updates regarding baseball, follow the program on Twitter (@BaseballRU), Instagram (@rutgersbaseball), Facebook (/BaseballRU) and Snapchat (rutgersbaseball).


 

 

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