March 29, 2015
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By BEN SCHMITZ
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa baseball team improved to 3-0 in Big Ten Conference play for the first time since 1994 with a 10-6 triumph over No. 19 Indiana on Sunday at Duane Banks Field in Iowa City.
With the win, the Hawkeyes improve to 17-6 overall, while Indiana drops to 16-8 overall with a 1-4 mark in conference play.
“This sweep was exactly what we needed if we’re going to try and compete for a championship,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “When you have the opportunity to win three against one of the league favorites and you take advantage of it, it is a big deal. We’ve got areas to improve on and get better, but it was a good start to league play.
“It’s just like anything else, there are a lot of games left, and we’ve only gotten started.”
Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the first, the Iowa bats erupted — erasing a two-run deficit via six runs on five hits. Senior Eric Toole sparked the offensive attack with a leadoff single through the left side. The Council Bluffs, Iowa, native later scored on a bases loaded hit-by-pitch from senior Sean Moore.
Senior Jake Mangler and Tyler Peyton scored on a Joel Booker double to right field, giving the Hawkeyes a 3-2 lead — one they wouldn’t relinquish. Moore, junior Daniel Aaron Moriel, and Booker each plated additional scores, propelling the Hawkeyes to a commanding 6-2 advantage before closing the first inning.
Both teams went scoreless in the second, but returned with offense in the third. The Hoosiers plated one run off a single hit. Craig Dedelow led off with a double to right-center field before scoring on a sacrifice fly ball.
The Iowa bats answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame. With runners at the corners and one out, Toole delivered with an RBI-single through the right side to score Moriel. Later in the inning, junior Tyler Peyton took his turn driving in the runs — this time with a liner up the middle to bring home senior Nick Day.
Both teams played scoreless baseball through the ensuing four innings before the Hoosiers narrowed the gap with a trio of eighth-inning scores. Three straight hits loaded the bases with no outs for the visitors. A Casey Rodriguez fielder’s choice allowed Brad Hartong across the plate for the initial run. Rodriguez and Scott Donley plated additional runs to narrow the gap, 8-6.
The Hawkeye bats again came through in the bottom of the frame to hold off Indiana’s hopes of a comeback. Peyton and Day applied the damage with a pair of runs off four hits — extending the final lead, 10-6.
Iowa finished the contest with season-highs in both runs (10) and hits (16). Four Hawkeyes posted multi-hit games with Peyton going 4-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Toole had three hits and two RBIs, extending his hitting streak to 15 games.
“The one thing we know about this team is that they’ll compete,” said Heller. “If things go good or bad, we’ll still go out and compete. We may have some days that we go out and things don’t go our way but we never give up. You saw it today when we were down early and we came back with our offense in the bottom of the inning.
“We’re an older and mature team whose confidence has been growing each week. We can improve in a lot of areas but I thought we pitched well this weekend and that was something we hadn’t been doing the past couple weeks.
Junior Calvin Matthews started Sunday’s contest and went four innings deep, surrendering a trio of runs off of five hits. Senior Nick Hibbing entered in the fifth inning and was credited with the win after three innings of work. Hibbing (1-0) limited the Hoosiers to a pair of runs on four hits.
The Hawkeyes return to action Tuesday, hosting Grand View at 3 p.m. (CT).