May 29, 2015
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By JAMES ALLAN
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Junior Tyler Peyton tossed 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball to propel the second-seeded University of Iowa baseball team to a 3-1 NCAA Regional victory over third-seeded Oregon on Friday afternoon at Hammons Field. It is the Hawkeyes’ first NCAA Tournament victory in 43 years.
The win gives Iowa 40 victories for the first time since 1985, improving the Hawkeyes’ record to 40-16.
“It was a good game for us,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “We played good defense and did everything that we set out to do. We didn’t get the big hit, but we pitched well, and found ways to score. Our guys were dialed in, they didn’t press, they went out and played. I told them to go out and be who they were and they did that today.”
Peyton (7-4) scattered seven hits in the outing, allowing his only run in the third inning. The right-hander had five strikeouts without issuing a walk — his fifth game with at least five punch outs and zero walks — but did hit two batters.
“We’ve won a lot of games like that,” said Heller. “We needed a great start out of Tyler and he provided it, going seven plus innings, pounded the strike zone and didn’t walk a batter. It was exactly what we needed.”
Senior Nick Hibbing got the final five outs, allowing three hits and fanning one, to earn his eighth save of the season.
The Hawkeyes finished with just six hits in the game, but took advantage of 10 free bases, four coming on walks and six on hit by pitches. Senior Nick Day finished 2-for-4 with an RBI, while junior Nick Roscetti drove in two and scored a run.
Iowa scored the game’s first run in the second inning, using a hit by pitch and two walks to load the bases with two outs. Day followed by hitting a hard grounder to Mitchell Tolman at third base, but the ball stayed down for a base hit, allowing Roscetti to score to give Iowa a 1-0 lead.
The Ducks used three singles in the top of the third, including an RBI base knock to left field by Austin Grebeck to tie the game at one. Iowa answered in the bottom half before tacking on a third run in the fifth.
“It was great to answer (in the bottom of the third),” said Peyton. “You need those types of innings where the opposing team scores and it’s good to get the momentum back and get the lead back. That pushed us to maintain the lead throughout the whole game.”
In the third, senior Kris Goodman and Peyton started the rally with consecutive one-out singles against Ducks’ starter Cole Irvin. After moving into scoring position on a wild pitch, Roscetti put the Hawkeyes back on top, 2-1, with an RBI groundout.
Irvin put himself in a hole in the fifth, plunking Jake Mangler and Peyton to start the frame before both runners moved into scoring position on a Goodman sacrifice bunt. The small ball worked, as Roscetti drove in his second run, hitting a grounder to short, to knock in the game’s third run.
Iowa had its chances to deliver a knockout blow, loading the bases in the fifth, sixth, and putting two on in the seventh, but couldn’t break it open. The Hawkeyes left 13 runners on base in the game.
“We couldn’t get the knockout blow, that two-out hit to break the game open,” said Heller. “We did a great of execution-wise, got our bunts down and did a great job situationally. We didn’t have a big day offensively, but we scrapped.”
With a steady rain falling, Oregon threatened in the eighth inning when Peyton hit Austin Grebeck with one out to end his day. Hibbing got a fly out for the second out before the Ducks loaded the bases with a second hit by pitch and a single, but the right-hander got Brandon Cuddy to pop out to shallow left field to end the threat.
After a 28-minute rain delay after eight complete, Hibbing pitched around a pair of two-out singles in the ninth inning before Goodman caught a rocket off the bat of Grebeck in left field to end the game.
Irvin (2-5) suffered the loss, allowing three runs on four hits over five innings. Iowa had only two hits against Duck relievers Cooper Stiles and Stephen Nogosek over the final three frames.
The night cap of Friday’s Springfield Regional doubleheader between top-seeded Missouri State and Canisius was postponed because of weather. Iowa will face the winner Saturday at 8 p.m. (CT).