Northwestern (22-28, 11-11 Big Ten) dominated Rutgers (19-32, 7-14 Big Ten) on both sides of the ball in a 14-0 thrashing in Evanston on Thursday afternoon to open the year’s final regular season series.
The win puts Northwestern alone in seventh place in the Big Ten standings and on the verge of the Wildcats’ first Big Ten Tournament berth since 2010. Rutgers, on the other hand, was eliminated from contention with a third-straight loss and sits firmly in the conference cellar.
The day belonged to Wildcats starter Cooper Wetherbee. He struck out nine Scarlet Knights and allowed a mere three hits over seven shutout innings. It was one of his best outings of the year. In an important bounce-back game for the senior after getting roughed up by Maryland, he lowered his season ERA to 3.03.
Matt Hopfner paced the offense with a performance for the books. The senior went 3-for-5 with a career-high six RBIs and three runs scored, falling a double shy of a cycle. Junior Jack Claeys went 2-for-3 with a homer, while Jack Dunn and Joe Hoscheit each added three hits and two runs to the offensive barrage.
Northwestern got on the board early with four runs in the second courtesy of Claeys’ solo shot, an Alex Erro sac fly and RBI singles by Dunn and Hoscheit, knocking out Rutgers starter Christian Campbell.
The Wildcats mirrored their production in the fifth inning. Hopfner cleared the bases with a two-run triple, and Connor Lind and Jake Schieber each hit sacrifice flies to put Northwestern up 8-0.
The sixth inning saw Hopfner do even more damage with an RBI single. He then scored, along with fellow senior Hoscheit, on a Claeys two-run single. Hopfner kept raking in the seventh with a three-run homer to left to make it 14-0.
Tommy Bordignon pitched two solid innings of low-leverage relief for his first scoreless outing of the season.
For Rutgers, Campbell only lasted two innings in his fourth loss of the year, giving up four runs on four hits and hitting three batters. His offense provided only six total baserunners’ worth of support.
Up next for the Wildcats is a doubleheader on Friday to finish out the series and regular season against the Scarlet Knights. Hoscheit, Hopfner, Wetherbee, Schieber and fellow seniors Josh Davis, Pete Hofman, Grant Peikert and Joe Schindler will be honored on Senior Day.