May 20, 2015
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By JAMES ALLAN
MINNEAPOLIS — Senior Nick Day hit a game-winning, walk-off two-run home run to send the 15th-ranked and second-seeded University of Iowa baseball team to a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over seventh-seeded Ohio State on Wednesday in the opening round of the 2015 Big Ten Tournament.
The Hawkeyes trailed 2-1 and were down to their final out when junior Eric Schenck-Joblinske drew a pinch-hit walk to keep the rally alive. With a 1-2 count against Ohio State closer Trace Dempsey, Day hit a slider into the bleachers in left field at Target Field to give Iowa its sixth walk-off victory of the season.
“He gave me a couple of fastballs early and I don’t know why I didn’t swing at them,” said Day. “I was looking for a slider late, and it was a decent pitch. I don’t know how I got to it.
“I took a couple of steps and realized what happened. It was exciting.”
The win moves Iowa to 39-14 overall and keeps it alive in the winner’s bracket where it will square off against third-seeded Michigan on Thursday at 5 p.m. (CT). The Hawkeyes took 2-of-3 games from the Wolverines from May 1-3 in Ann Arbor.
“That was a great college baseball game,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “It was well-played by both teams.”
Senior Nick Hibbing (3-1) earned his third victory of the season, allowing one run on one hit over 2 2/3 innings. He had two strikeouts without a walk, running his walk-less streak to 39 1/3 innings.
The Hawkeyes manufactured the game’s first run in the second, taking advantage of a Kris Goodman walk and a Grant Klenovich single to start the inning. After Nick Roscetti sacrificed both runners up a base, Goodman crossed the plate on an RBI groundout from Jimmy Frankos, giving the Hawkeyes a 1-0 lead.
Iowa starter Tyler Peyton cruised through the first six innings, scattering five hits and striking out seven. He retired seven straight at one stretch, including striking out the side in his final full frame in the sixth.
“Tyler pitched a great game, but kind of lost his command in the seventh,” said Heller. “We had to go to the bullpen and Hibbing did a nice job. It was a bulldog effort by Nick.”
The Buckeyes got to the Iowa right-hander in the seventh when Zach Ratcliff and Aaron Gretz started the frame with a double and single, respectively, before pinch-runner Jake Brobst scored on a Tre’ Gantt sacrifice fly to tie the game. A single by Craig Nennig ended Peyton’s day, but Hibbing entered and got out of the jam to strand a pair.
Ohio State grabbed its first lead in the eighth with a one-out, solo blast from first-team All-Big Ten selection Pat Porter. The left fielder belted a 2-2 pitch down the short porch in right field, giving the Buckeyes a 2-1 lead. It was the first run allowed by Hibbing in 19 1/3 innings.
Ohio State starter Travis Lakins pitched eight innings of one-run ball, scattering six hits and fanning six, but the Buckeyes turned to Dempsey in the ninth. The right-hander suffered the loss, allowing two runs on a single hit in 2/3 of an inning.
Day finished with two of Iowa’s seven hits, finishing 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored.