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No. 6 Illini sweep Rutgers, Extend winning streak to 24 games

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The Illini scored 28 runs Sunday to finish off the Scarlet Knights.

Thomas Nelshoppen of Illinois Baseball Report

The No. 6 Fighting Illini just keep on dominating. After taking both games of a doubleheader on Saturday, Illinois (43-6-1) capped off a weekend sweep over Rutgers (17-34-1) with an incredible 28-13 victory on Sunday afternoon. The 24 straight wins is the longest streak in school history and it's now tied with Texas A&M for the longest streak of the season. The Illini will finish the regular season next weekend when Nebraska comes to town for a three game series.

Here's a more in-depth recap of the weekend's games:

Saturday

Thanks to a rain-out on Friday, Rutgers and Illinois played a double header on Saturday. In game one, Illinois and Rutgers were deadlocked at 1-1 for 4 1/2 innings before Illinois scored 4 runs to make it 5-1. Rutgers proceeded score another run in the 6th, but that was all junior LHP Kevin Duchene (9-1, 1.08 ERA) gave up as he exited after 7 innings with just 2 runs allowed. Rutgers managed to get 2 runs off of Tyler Jay in the 8th, but he shut them down in the 9th for his 10th save as Illinois held on for the 5-4 win.

Game two was a little bit more comfortable for Illinois as they won 6-2. Drasen Johnson improved to 8-1 on the year, giving up just 1 run over seven innings while striking out four batters. Catcher Jason Goldstein had a homer, and shortstop Adam Walton went 2-3. J.D. Nielsen came on and allowed just 1 run in two innings of relief to finish off the Scarlet Knights.

Sunday

If you couldn't tell by the score, the wind was definitely blowing out Sunday. Rutgers opened the game with a 3-run homer off of starter John Kravetz to put Illinois in a quick 3-0 hole. The Illini responded right away as Casey Fletcher hit a two run double to cut the deficit to 3-2. In the 2nd inning, Rutgers hit back-to-back homers to extend their lead to 6-2.

In the bottom of the 2nd, Ryan Nagle hit a 3-run homer to bring the Illini back within one. Rutgers then scored 2 in the 3rd and 1 in the 4th to extend their lead to 9-5. Momentum would, however, shift toward the Illini in the bottom of the 4th. Illinois loaded up the bases and cleanup hitter Jason Goldstein hit a grand slam to tie the game at 9-9.

Then in the top of the 5th this:

Rutgers eventually tied the game at 10-10, but this didn't last long at all. Illinois' offense exploded for a total of 18 runs in the final four innings. Congratulations, Rutgers, you tried.

Illinois' magic number for the Big Ten regular season title is now down to 2. Second place Iowa will end their season by traveling to Rutgers for a three game series. Assuming they sweep, the Illini will need to win at least two games against Nebraska next weekend.

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