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Rutgers came back to top Penn State 5-4 to advance in the Big Ten Tournament on Friday May 27, 2022. Photo: Rutgers Athletics.

Behind an incredible performance on the mound by Nate Florence and a 10th inning rally, Rutgers survived, defeated Penn State 5-4 to move on in the Big Ten Tournament. The victory marked Rutgers’ 43rd win of the season — a new program record for most wins in a single season.

Rutgers carried a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning after eight incredible inning by Florence. The graduate student held The Nittany Lions to just three hits and a run over eight innings, while walking two and recording 10 strikeouts.

At one point Florence had retired 14 consecutive Penn State batters over a period of 4.2 innings of work in the early stages of the game.

“He was awesome today. He threw a lot of strikes. He had a good change-up early, had a good breaking ball in the middle and thew a lot of fastballs,” Manager Steve Owens told Scarletknights.com. “He stayed out there to the ninth inning and we haven’t gone past five or six the whole year. I let him go because he kept doing his job and did it really well. We needed that length today and he was awesome.”

Rutgers scratched out four runs for Florence in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings respectively. A RBI double by Nick Cimillo made it 1-0 RU in the sixth.  Richie Schiekofer had a RBI single in the seventh to push RU to a 2-0 lead. Finally, Chris Brito lined a two-run single to left to give the Scarlet Knights a 4-0 lead.

However, things started to come apart in the ninth. Florence was lifted in the ninth inning after a lead-off walk to Cole Bartels, and the Rutgers bullpen couldn’t shut the door. Ben Gorski would be charged with three runs as Penn State stormed back to tie the game up at four.

Even with the loss of the lead and momentum it didn’t stop Rutgers from finding a way. Brito was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. Josh Kuroda-Grauer singled through the right side to move Brito to third. Finally, Schiekofer skied one to center, deep enough for Brito to score the go-ahead run.

In the bottom half of the inning, Sam Bello wasted no time putting away Penn State for the victory.

Rutgers will play on Saturday night in the next round of the Big Ten Tournament at 10 p.m.