March 23, 2014
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — A four-run eighth inning sent the University of Iowa baseball team to an 8-4 victory over Nebraska on Sunday afternoon in the series finale at Duane Banks Field. The Hawkeyes won 2-of-3 games in the Big Ten-opening weekend, claiming their first conference-opening series since 1998.
“I was happy to see our guys to go out and play the game, they didn’t worry about the Big Ten series, that we were playing Nebraska, one of the top picks in the league,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “They went out and played baseball and tried to control themselves and what they could control.”
After giving up a 4-3 lead in the top of the seventh inning, the Hawkeyes took control, scoring four runs on five hits in the bottom of the eighth. With one out, senior Trevor Kenyon and junior Nick Day started the rally with consecutive singles before junior Eric Toole walked to load the bases.
Junior Jake Mangler knocked in the go-ahead run with an RBI single through the left side against Nebraska reliever Jeff Chesnut. The Huskers then went to the pen again, bringing in Zach Hirsch, and junior Jake Yacinich welcomed him with an opposite field RBI single, pushing the lead to 6-4.
Iowa wasn’t done, as junior Dan Potempa gave Iowa some insurance when he roped a two-run double down the left field line to stretch the margin to 8-4. The hit was Potempa’s third of the game and fourth of the weekend; he finished 8-of-11 with three RBIs and a run scored and pushed his reached base streak to 15 games.
Junior Brandon Shulista (2-0) earned the victory despite throwing a single pitch. He entered the game with two outs in the eighth inning before Kenyon gunned down Nebraska’s Ryan Boldt on an attempt steal to end the frame.
Sophomore Tyler Peyton pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on six hits with three strikeouts. Iowa relievers — Blake Hickman, Shulista and Nick Hibbing — pitched the final 2 2/3 innings of scoreless, hitless relief.
Iowa out-hit the Huskers, 14-6, in the contest and 34-23 over the three-game series. Potempa led a group of five Hawkeyes with multi-hit games, going 3-for-4 with three RBIs and a run scored. Manger went 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs, while Toole (2-for-4, 2 runs), Kenyon (2-for-3, 2 runs) and Day (2-for-3, 1 run) all had two-hit games.
After spotting Nebraska a 3-0 lead through two innings, the Hawkeyes fought back to tie the game, scoring one run in the third and two in the fifth. Mangler started off the third with a single through the right side before advancing to second on a Yacinich ground out. Potempa knocked in the first Hawkeye run with an RBI single to left field.
“For a while it looked like it was going to be a repeat of yesterday, but our guys kept battling at the plate,” said Heller. “We talked about it before the game, if you have quality at-bats time after time, they’ll eventually fall. The second-half of the game, they started finding some holes.”
Toole jump-started the Iowa rally in the fifth with a leadoff bunt before Mangler moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt. After a Yacinich ground out moved Mangler to third, Potempa was plunked to put runners on the corners before senior Taylor Zeutenhorst worked a walk to load the bases. Junior Kris Goodman then delivered in the clutch, lacing a two-run double just inside third base and down the left field line to tie the game at three.
The Hawkeyes took their first lead in the bottom of the sixth inning against Husker reliever Bob Greco. Kenyon roped a single up the middle to start the frame before moving to second on a Day sacrifice bunt. With two outs, Mangler made the score 4-3, bouncing an RBI single up the middle.
Nebraska took advantage of a leadoff walk by Ben Miller in the seventh, which led to the game-tying run. After pinch runner Ty Kildow moved to second on a wild pitch and third on a groundout by Taylor Fish, Steven Reveles hit a shallow fly ball to left field, but it was enough to score the speedy Kildow, tying the game at four.
The Huskers struck first, putting a three spot on the scoreboard in the top of the second inning. Boldt led off the frame with a walk before Austin Christiansen singled through the right side to put two runners on. Miller made the score 1-0 with a lazy grounder through the hole on the left side before Austin Darby laced a two-run triple down the left field live that caromed off a diving Taylor Kaufman’s glove into foul territory.
The Hawkeyes (14-6, 2-1) return to action Wednesday, hosting Bradley at 3 p.m. (CT) at Banks Field. Iowa hits the road next weekend for a three-game Big Ten series at Michigan from March 28-30 in Ann Arbor, Mich.
|Iowa 8, Nebraska 4||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Nebraska (13-9, 1-2)||0||3||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||4||6||0|
|Iowa (14-6, 2-1)||0||0||1||0||2||1||0||4||X||8||14||1|
|W: Shulista (IOWA) 2-0|
|L: Hohensee (NEB) 0-2|