March 26, 2016
- Read the March issue of Hawk Talk Monthly
- 2016 Iowa Baseball Media Guide
- 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
IOWA CITY, Iowa — A four-run eighth inning sent the University of Iowa baseball team to a 4-1 come-from-behind victory over Maryland on Saturday afternoon at Duane Banks Field. The win clinches the Hawkeyes’ first Big Ten series victory of 2016.
“We talk a lot about when things aren’t going well, just stick with the plan and don’t get caught up with the things you can’t control and the game will come back to you,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “Today was a great example of how the game came back to us.”
Iowa (9-11, 2-0) trailed 1-0 heading into the eighth inning when the Hawkeyes broke through against the Terrapin bullpen. Freshman Robert Neustrom started the inning with a leadoff single before senior Joel Booker reached on a fielder’s choice. Pinch runner Devin Pickett kept the big inning hope alive when he avoided shortstop Kevin Smith’s tag on the play to put two runners on with nobody out.
“(Devin’s slide) was a big play,” said Heller. “It was one of those plays that people will go home and forget about. If he doesn’t make the good slide to avoid the tag then that inning completely changes.”
The Hawkeyes elected to play small ball and put pressure on the Terrapins defense; the move paid off. Freshman Zach Daniels laid down a sacrifice bunt and ended up on second base on an errant throw by first baseman Kevin Biondic. Pickett scored the tying run from second base on the play.
Senior Nick Roscetti loaded the bases, reaching on a fielder’s choice, when Booker faked out third baseman A.J. Lee on a hard grounder. After reliever Ryan Sellmer recorded the first out via a strikeout, senior Tyler Peyton hit an opposite field, two-run single to give the Hawkeyes a 3-1 lead. Senior Jimmy Frankos drove in an insurance run on a safety squeeze to push the lead to 4-1.
“We just kept battling and things started falling our way,” said Heller. “We finally had a jam shot fall for us with Tyler and broke it open. It was a great example of sticking with the plan.”
The first eight innings was a pitcher’s duel with Peyton and sophomore Nick Gallagher going toe-to-toe with Terrapin starter Taylor Bloom.
Peyton went five innings, scattering three hits and allowing one run — a fourth-inning solo home run from Biondic. Peyton struck out seven without issuing a walk before turning the reins over to Gallagher in the sixth. The right-hander (3-2) earned his third win, allowing two hits and striking out four in four shutout innings.
“Tyler looked normal today for the first time since Dallas Baptist and that was a great sign,” said Heller. “His fastball velocity was there, he had batter command of it, and he had command of his changeup and slider.
“Then Gallagher came in and was fantastic. He’s growing each time he takes the mound. His slider was filthy today and he had great command. We could throw whatever he wanted and you saw the result.”
Bloom held Iowa’s offense in check for the first seven innings, limiting the Hawkeyes to five hits and striking out four. Reliever Robert Galligan (0-2) was tagged with the loss, allowing three runs (one earned) without recording an out.
“Bloom had a great day and commanded the zone, and kept the ball low,” said Peyton. “It was great that we got to their bullpen, found ways to get on base, ran the bases well, and picked each other up batter-by-batter.”
Neustrom led the Hawkeyes at the plate, finishing 3-for-3 for his third three-hit game of the season. Peyton was 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Iowa goes for the series sweep Sunday; game time is set for 12:05 p.m. (CT).
“It feels good to get the series win,” said Peyton. “I want to say it feels really good, but we’re going for something more tomorrow. I am looking forward to trying to get the sweep over a really good team.”