May 28, 2016
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By JAMES ALLAN
OMAHA, Neb. — The University of Iowa baseball team rolled its way to the Big Ten Tournament championship game with an 11-0 shutout victory over sixth-seeded Maryland on Saturday afternoon at TD Ameritrade Park.
Iowa, who is playing in its first Big Ten Tournament title game since 2010, will go for its first Big Ten Tournament crown in program history. The Hawkeyes are 30-25 overall, giving the program 30 victories in three consecutive seasons for the first time since 1983-85.
Two Hawkeye underclassmen pitchers stifled the Terrapins, surrendering just four hits in the team’s fourth shutout this season. Freshman Shane Ritter gave Iowa three shutout innings, scattering three hits, before turning the ball over to sophomore Nick Gallagher.
The right-hander (8-3) notched his team-leading eighth victory, tossing six innings of one-hit ball. He had a career-high nine strikeouts and faced just three batters over the minimum.
“We put Shane in a hot spot and he handled it well,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “We felt if we could get three or four out of Shane that Nick would come in and be able to go the rest of the way. It worked out perfectly on the mound. Both guys pitched well, and Nick was outstanding.”
After hitting the ball hard over the first three innings, but having nothing to show for it, the Hawkeyes broke onto the scoreboard in the fourth inning with a one-out rally. After back-to-back walks, freshman Robert Neustrom put Iowa up 1-0 with an RBI single to right center field.
Senior Daniel Aaron Moriel followed with an infield single to knock in Iowa’s second run, and senior Eric Schenck-Joblinske came through with a full count, flying out to centerfield for a sacrifice fly to make the score 3-0.
“Whenever someone gets something going, we’re a team that follows,” said Neustrom. “We have players that back other teammates up. It did start something, but it didn’t matter who did it. It was going to start either way.”
Gallagher entered in the fourth following a leadoff single by Nick Cieri, and he promptly struck out the side after giving his only hit. The only other Maryland base runners came in the sixth and ninth (via Iowa errors) and an eighth-inning walk.
“We pitched backwards against them,” said Gallagher. “It was a lot of first-pitch breaking stuff and we worked off of that. We did that the first time and we did it again. It worked out.”
The Hawkeyes gave Gallagher some insurance and then some in the eighth and ninth innings, forcing Maryland to run through six of its eight pitchers. Iowa put up a five spot in the eighth, batting around, and with Roscetti, Booker (two RBIs), and Guzzo driving in runs in the inning.
Iowa scored its final three runs in the ninth, taking advantage of a pair of walks. Roscetti doubled in the ninth run, McCoy had an RBI single to left field, and Neustrom capped off the afternoon with an infield RBI single, pushing the advantage to 11-0.
“Our at-bats were locked in all day,” said Heller. “We were able to take advantage of a couple of big innings… a few free bases helped, but we had production up and down the lineup.”
Eight of Iowa’s nine starters had at least one hit (Zach Daniels, who didn’t have a hit, walked three times) and seven players had at least one RBI. Booker (3-for-6, 2 RBIs) and Neustrom (3-for-4, 2 RBIs) tallied three hit games. McCoy extended his hitting streak to a career-best 12 games.
Maryland starter Hunter Parsons (2-3) suffered the loss, allowing three runs on four hits over 3 2/3 innings.
Sunday’s championship game will begin at 1 p.m. (CT). The opponent will be Michigan State, Ohio State, or Michigan.