April 11, 2015
- Read the April issue of Hawk Talk Monthly
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye iPhone/iPad app!
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye Android app!
- Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
By JAMES ALLAN
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Junior Blake Hickman started and senior Nick Hibbing finished, leading the 15th-ranked University of Iowa baseball team to a 3-1 victory over 16th-ranked Maryland on Saturday afternoon at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium. The win evens the series at one game apiece heading into Sunday’s finale.
The Hawkeyes rode their pitching and played error-free defense to improve to 22-9 overall and 7-1 in Big Ten play. The pitching duo limited the Terrapins’ potent offense to one run on four hits and fanned eight.
Hickman was perfect through four before issuing a leadoff walk in the fifth, but he faced the minimum until the seventh when he gave up a two-out single and his lone run. Hickman allowed three hits over 6 2/3 innings and struck out eight to improve to 5-1 this season.
“Blake couldn’t have been any better with his command,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “He was able to pitch on both sides of the plate and his secondary stuff was solid. It was an outstanding effort.”
After entering with two on and two out in the seventh, Hibbing struck out the first batter he faced before cruising to his third save. The right-hander struck out the side in the eighth and got a pair of infield pop outs and a strikeout looking to end the game. Hibbing allowed one hit in 2 1/3 innings and struck out five of the eight batters he faced.
“That was as good as I have seen Nick,” said Heller. “He was confident, pounding both sides of the plate his fastball, his change-up was excellent, and his breaking ball was solid, too, against one of the better hitting teams in the country. To limit them to four hits and one run is pretty impressive.”
Iowa manufactured the game’s first run in the fifth, taking advantage of a Jake Mangler leadoff double. Mangler used heady base-running to move up 90 feet on a Tyler Peyton groundout to the pitcher before junior Daniel Aaron Moriel lifted the first pitch he saw to right field for a sacrifice fly, giving the Hawkeyes a 1-0 lead.
After leaving two runners stranded in both the fifth and sixth innings, Iowa pushed its lead to 2-0 in the seventh. The Hawkeyes loaded the bases against three Maryland pitchers, courtesy of a pair of walks and a Nick Day single. Mangler delivered with one out, driving in Kris Goodman with an infield single in the 5 1/2 hole.
Iowa missed a golden opportunity for more when Terrapin reliever Robert Galligan got Peyton to ground into a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play.
Maryland cut the lead in half with a two-out rally in the bottom half, stringing together three hits against Hickman. Kevin Martir broke up the no-hit bid with a single to left field, Jose Cuas laced a single to centerfield, and Anthony Papio drove in the run with an RBI single through the right side to end Hickman’s day.
The Hawkeye bats added an insurance run in the top of the ninth to give Hibbing some breathing room. Junior Nick Roscetti led off the inning with a single to left center before being sacrificed to second by Day.
An intentional walk to Eric Toole — one extended his reached base streak to 30 games — and a Mangler hit by pitch loaded the bases before Peyton lifted a fly ball to centerfield for a sacrifice fly to plate Roscetti and stretch Iowa’s lead to 3-1.
Mangler and Roscetti accounted for five of Iowa’s six hits in the game. Mangler was 3-for-4 with a run and RBI, while Roscetti finished 2-for-3 with a run scored.
“We scrapped, found a way to get some runs,” said Heller. “We’re not in a good place in the middle of the order right now, and it has been that way for a few games. Our pitchers have picked us up, and they did it again today, and we scrapped enough.”
Maryland starter Tayler Stiles (3-3) suffered the loss, allowing two runs on three hits over six innings. Four Terrapin relievers held the Hawkeyes to one run on three hits over the final three innings.
The rubber game of the three-game series will begin at 11 a.m. (CT) Sunday with junior Calvin Mathews (3-0, 1.25 ERA) taking the hill for the Hawkeyes.