May 31, 2015
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By JAMES ALLAN
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The University of Iowa baseball team stayed alive with a 2-1, 11-inning victory over Oregon in an elimination game on Sunday afternoon before seeing its season come to a close with a 3-2 loss to Missouri State in the night cap in a Springfield Regional final at Hammons Field.
Iowa ends the 2015 season with a 41-18 record — the second-most victories in program history.
The Hawkeyes fell behind early in the first elimination game, when Oregon scored an unearned run in the third against Iowa starter Calvin Mathews. Iowa awoke in the sixth to plate the equalizer, courtesy of small ball.
Senior Eric Toole led off the frame with a single up the middle before advancing to second base on a Jake Mangler sacrifice bunt. Toole scored the tying run on a pair of wild pitches from Ducks’ starter Josh Graham.
The Hawkeyes threatened in the seventh, putting two runners on base via a walk and hit by pitch with one out. Senior Nick Day came to the plate with Corbin Woods at second in scoring position, and he delivered a single to left field, but Oregon outfielder Phil Craig-St. Louis threw a dart to throw out Woods at the plate and keep the game even.
Oregon was in control of its fate in the ninth, loading the bases with nobody out against Luke Vandermaten, forcing Iowa to go to senior Nick Hibbing with the season on the line. Hibbing struck out Brandon Cuddy swinging before getting pinch-hitter J.B. Bryant to hit into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play to keep the game knotted at one.
In extras, Iowa pushed across the go-ahead run in the 11th. Junior Tyler Peyton led off the frame with a walk and moved to second on a Kris Goodman sacrifice, but was erased trying to advance to third on a Nick Roscetti ground ball to short.
With two outs, Roscetti was awarded second base on a Stephen Nogosek balk before junior Daniel Aaron Moriel laced an RBI single to centerfield, giving Iowa a 2-1 lead.
Hibbing retired the Ducks in order in the ninth to tally his fourth victory of the season. The right-hander threw three perfect innings, striking out three of the eight batters he faced.
Iowa pitching was superb with three pitchers combining to limit the Ducks to three hits. Mathews was strong in the start, allowing one unearned run on two hits over six innings and fanning three. Luke Vandermaten allowed one hit in two innings, but walked three.
Nogosek (6-3) suffered the loss, allowing one run on two hits in 4 2/3 innings. He had two strikeouts to two walks. Three Oregon pitchers limited Iowa to five hits.
In the regional final, Missouri State took advantage of free bases in the first inning against Iowa starter Connor Grant to plate the game’s first run. Grant struggled out of the gate, hitting the first batter he faced before issuing a pair of one-out walks to load the bases.
After just 17 Grant pitches, Iowa went to Hibbing for his second appearance of the day. MSU’s Justin Paulsen knocked in the game’s first run with a sacrifice fly to centerfield, but Hibbing ended the threat with a strikeout.
A pitcher’s duel ensued, as Hibbing and Bear starter Jordan Knutson went toe-to-toe. Iowa didn’t have its first base runner until the fourth and didn’t collect its first hit until the fifth, and Hibbing held Missouri State hitless through 5 2/3, striking out a career-high eight batters in the process.
Missouri State’s Jake Burger broke up Hibbing’s (and Iowa’s) no-hitter with a leadoff single in the seventh, and the Hawkeyes gave way to junior Tyler Radtke. The Bears pushed their second and third runs across the plate on a Dylan Becker RBI single through the right side, and a sacrifice fly from Joey Hawkins to push their lead to 3-0.
The Hawkeyes fought back in the eighth when Roscetti and senior Dan Potempa led off the inning with consecutive singles to chase Knutson from the game. Joel Booker welcomed reliever Sam Perez with a bunt single to load the bases with nobody out.
Iowa cut the lead to 3-1 on a Day groundout before Toole drew a walk to load the bases a second time, forcing Missouri State to go to their closer Bryan Young. After striking out Jake Mangler for the second out, junior Tyler Peyton forced in Iowa’s second run by drawing a full-count walk, but Young pitched his way out of the jam, striking out Goodman swinging to end the inning.
The Hawkeyes had the game-tying run on second base in the ninth and brought the winning run to the plate twice. Young bore down with pinch-runner Eric Schenck-Joblinske standing at second base, striking out pinch-hitter Taylor Kaufman swinging before getting Booker to fly out to shallow center to end the game.
Iowa’s pitching staff limited Missouri State to three hits, but took the loss. Grant (1-2) allowed one run in 1/3 of an inning. Hibbing was superb, allowing one run on one hit in 5 2/3 innings. He had eight strikeout to three walks.
Hibbing was named to the Springfield Regional’s all-tournament team and was named the Most Outstanding Player after going 1-0 with a 0.87 ERA with a save in three appearances. Hibbing allowed one run on four hits in 10 1/3 innings with 12 strikeouts against three walks.
Knutson (6-1) earned the win, allowing two runs on three hits over seven innings. Young notched his 16th save with 1 2/3 hitless innings in relief.