Long Balls Doom Iowa in Opener

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April 5, 2014

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Four Indiana home runs sent the No. 24/28 Hoosiers to a 6-3 series-opening victory over the University of Iowa baseball team Saturday afternoon at Duane Banks Field.

“Indiana is a powerful offensive team, we all saw that today,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “You make a mistake and they’ll hammer it, and that’s exactly what happened.”

The loss drops the Hawkeyes record to 16-10 overall and 3-4 in Big Ten play; Indiana improves to 16-10 and 6-1.

After two scoreless innings, Indiana pushed five runs across the plate on five hits in the top of the third against Iowa starter Calvin Mathews. Following a leadoff double from Casey Rodrigue, the Hoosiers connected on back-to-back-to-back home runs — a two-run shot to dead centerfield by Kyle Schwarber, a towering solo shot to left field by Sam Travis and a long ball that just cleared the fence in left center by Scott Donley — to push the advantage to 5-0.

Iowa cut into the deficit in the bottom of the sixth inning, scoring three runs against IU starter Joey DeNato. Following three-straight singles by Nick Day, Eric Toole and Jake Mangler to start the inning, junior Jake Yacinich drove in the first run with an RBI groundout. Sophomore Tyler Peyton followed with a two-run single to left centerfield to make the score 5-3.

“I am proud of our guys, we didn’t quit,” said Heller. “A lot of teams would have bailed giving up five runs in the third when things looked grim with the way they were scoring. We’re going to have to do a better job with runners in scoring position if we are going to beat these guys.”

The Hoosiers added an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning courtesy of Travis’ second home run of the game — a solo home run to left field off Iowa reliever Nick Hibbing.

The Hawkeyes had opportunities throughout the game, leaving 12 runners on base, but they couldn’t capitalize. Iowa finished with nine hits in the contest, including a three-hit effort from Mangler (3-for-5, 1 run). Day tallied his eighth multi-hit game, finishing 2-for-3 with a run scored, while Toole extended his hitting streak to eight games.

Mathews (3-2) suffered the loss, allowing five runs on 10 hits over six innings. He finished with six strikeouts against two walks in the game. It was Mathews’ first start this season where he gave up more than three earned runs. Hibbing tossed the final three frames, giving up one run on three hits with one strikeout.

“Calvin didn’t have his best stuff,” said Heller. “He struggled with his command of his change-up, didn’t have a great feel for his breaking ball and his fastball location wasn’t good. The thing that impressed me about Calvin’s start was a lot of guys would have just caved in. He went and toughed it out and gave us six innings, did the best he possibly could, and I commend him for that.”

DeNato (6-1) earned the victory, allowing three runs on eight hits over six innings. Indiana’s top four hitters accounted for 10 of its 13 hits and had five RBIs and five runs scored.

Game two of the series will begin Sunday at 2 p.m.

No. 24/28 Indiana 6, Iowa 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
#24/28 Indiana (16-10, 6-1) 0 0 5 0 0 0 1 0 0 6 13 1
Iowa (16-10, 3-4) 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 3 9 0
Game Decision
W: DeNato (IU) 6-1
L: Mathews (IOWA) 3-2
S: Effross (IU) 5