2-Run 9th Sends Iowa Past Nebraska

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March 21, 2014

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — A two-run ninth-inning rally lifted the University of Iowa baseball team to a 2-1 victory over Nebraska in its Big Ten and home opener Friday afternoon at Duane Banks Field. The win improves the Hawkeyes’ record to 13-5 overall and 1-0 in conference play.

Tyler Peyton worked a walk, three hits in a row and nobody gave up,” said UI head coach Rick Heller of the team’s ninth-inning rally. “We were facing a quality closer, and I’m very happy with our effort.”

After trailing 1-0 heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Hawkeyes broke through in their final at-bat against Husker closer Josh Roeder. Sophomore Tyler Peyton started the rally with a one-out walk before senior Taylor Zeutenhorst laced a single to right field to put runners on the corners.

Junior pinch hitter Taylor Kaufman delivered an opposite field single through the left side to knock in the game-tying run. After a Roeder wild pitch moved runners to second and third, Nebraska intentionally walked junior Kris Goodman to load the bases, bringing senior Trevor Kenyon to the plate with one away.

After fouling off three-straight pitches, Kenyon roped the game-winning, RBI single to left field to send the Hawkeyes out 2-1 winners. The victory was Iowa’s first in a Big Ten opener since the 2010 season.

“(Hitting coach Marty) Sutherland and I talked a lot prior to that at-bat,” said Kenyon. “We thought he was going to throw a slider, his best pitch, but since he wasn’t feeling it, I was sitting dead red fastball and got two of those early and fought those off. In the end, he threw me a slider, and I stayed with it and pulled it.”

The game was a pitcher’s duel between Iowa’s Calvin Mathews and Nebraska’s Christian DeLeon. Mathews allowed one run on six hits over eight innings, striking out five and issuing zero walks. DeLeon threw eight scoreless innings of six-hit ball and had four strikeouts to zero walks.

“Calvin did a great job for us, and I couldn’t be prouder,” said Heller. “We talked this week that this is a team that’s aggressive so we wanted to throw strikes early in the count to help keep his pitch count down and he did just that. We played solid defense behind him and Calvin really battled for us.”

The Hawkeyes had chances early against DeLeon, putting a pair of runners on base in the second and loading the bases with one out in the third. Both times, the Huskers thwarted the threats with inning-ending double plays.

“We fought the whole game, had the bases loaded once and just couldn’t push one across,” said Mathews. “We finally came through in the ninth with a couple of hits there and then Trevor had the nice hit to win it.” After giving up first inning single and a leadoff base hit in the second, Mathews settled in, retiring 13-straight batters into the sixth. In the seventh, Nebraska used a one-out rally to plate the game’s first run. Pat Kelly and Ryan Boldt had back-to-back singles before Austin Christiansen knocked in the run, reaching on a fielder’s choice.

Sophomore Blake Hickman pitched the top of the ninth inning, allowing one hit and recording one strikeout. He improved to 2-0 on the mound this season. Roeder took the loss — his first of the year. He entered the game 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA with three saves.

A pair of Hawkeyes accounted for four of the team’s nine hits. Junior Dan Potempa went 2-for-3, and Kenyon was 2-for-4 with the game-winning RBI. Peyton went 1-for-3 to extend his hitting streak to 11 games and reached base streak to 12 games.

Game two of the series is slated to begin at 2 p.m. (CT) Saturday at Banks Field.

Iowa 2, Nebraska 1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Nebraska (12-8, 0-1) 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 7 1
Iowa (13-5, 1-0) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 9 1
Game Decision
W: Hickman (IOWA) 2-0
L: Roeder (NEB) 0-1