May 30, 2015
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By JAMES ALLAN
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Missouri State scored all five of its runs in two innings to rally from a 2-0 deficit to hand the University of Iowa baseball team a 5-3 loss in a winner’s bracket game in the NCAA Springfield Regional on Saturday night at Hammons Field.
The Bears took advantage of nine Iowa free bases and got a dominant pitching performance from junior starter Matt Hall. The All-America southpaw allowed two runs on seven hits, while fanning 11, to pick up his 11th victory of the season.
“I felt like our guys fought and had good at-bats against Hall,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “He’s a tough pitcher. He settled in and did a nice job in the middle innings and shut us down.”
Iowa got off to a strong start, pushing two runs across the plate in the second inning, taking advantage of a walk and two Bear errors. Kris Goodman started things off by reaching on a base on ball before Nick Roscetti reached on a bunt single and both runners moved into scoring position on a Hall throwing error.
Junior Daniel Aaron Moriel drove in the game’s first run with an infield single to Joey Hawkins, and the shortstop’s errant throw allowed Roscetti to cross the plate on the play, giving Iowa a 2-0 lead.
“It started out pretty good for us,” said Heller. “We were able to put some pressure on Missouri State and force some defensive mistakes that we were able to take advantage of.”
After throwing three shutout innings, Missouri State got to Iowa starter Blake Hickman in the fourth with a two-out rally. Following a pair of walks, Nick Day fielded a laser off the bat of Jake Burger, but Tyler Peyton couldn’t make the pick at first base, allowing the Bears to load the bases.
Right fielder Blake Graham tied the game with a two-run single to centerfield to end Hickman’s day. Junior Ryan Erickson walked the first batter he face, but got out of the inning unscathed, getting a Jake Burger groundout to end the threat.
“I lost it there,” said Hickman. “I tried to battle, but things didn’t go my way that inning. I tried to battle and things just got away from me.”
The Bears grabbed their first lead an inning later, taking advantage of a walk and four straight singles to take a 5-2 lead. Justin Paulsen, Spencer Johnson, and Jake Burger had RBI singles in the inning.
“Erickson came in and wasn’t sharp,” said Heller. “He couldn’t throw secondary pitches for strikes and was struggling to locate his fastball. Our bullpen has been solid all year long and that was not the norm. It cost us tonight.”
Hall settled in, allowing just three Hawkeye base runners and striking out seven in the fifth through eighth innings. The Hawkeyes tried to rally in the ninth against Bear closer Bryan Young.
Moriel led off the frame with a single before being pinch-run for by sophomore Corbin Woods. Wood stole second, and scored on a Day double down the left field line, bringing the game-tying run to the plate. Young closed the door, striking out Toole looking to end the game.
Erickson (4-1) was tagged with his first loss of the season, allowing three runs on four hits and walking a pair in 2/3 of an inning. Senior Brandon Shulista was superb, tossing 4 1/3 shutout innings, scattering two hits and striking out one. Tyler Radtke got the final out in the ninth.
“Brandon came in and had a fantastic game for us because things were going downhill pretty fast,” said Heller. “He pounded the zone, changed speeds, and gave us quality innings.”
The Hawkeyes finished with nine hits in the game. Toole (2-for-5), Jake Mangler (2-for-4), Roscetti (2-for-4, 1 R), and Moriel (2-for-4, 1 RBI) all had multi-hit games.
Iowa (40-17) will return to the field Sunday for a rematch with Oregon in an elimination game beginning at 2 p.m. (CT). The Ducks knocked Canisius out of the tournament with a 12-6 victory Saturday.
“We have to forget about this,” said Mangler. “It’s on to the next game. Tomorrow we have to come back with a new mindset and take things the way we usually play. We’re fighting for our lives.”