By AUSTIN BRAMLEY
LINCOLN, Neb. — Mitchell Boe’s RBI single in the 10th inning sent the University of Iowa baseball team to a 7-6 series-opening victory over Nebraska on Friday night at Hawks Field at Haymarket Park.
The game was tied at six heading into extra innings when the Hawkeyes manufactured the go-ahead run. Junior Tyler Cropley reached via a hit by pitch to lead off the inning before junior Austin Guzzo’s sacrifice bunt moved Cropley into scoring position.
Boe stepped to the plate with two outs and roped an RBI single down the left field line to give Iowa a 7-6 lead. It was Boe’s second hit of the day.
“We showed a ton of fight tonight,” said UI head coach Rick Heller, whose team improved to 21-11 overall and 4-3 in Big Ten play. “We were swinging well early and found a way to fight back.”
The Hawkeyes broke out the lumber early, scoring their first six runs on three home runs. In the first, junior Jake Adams belted a solo shot to left center field to give the Hawkeyes a 1-0 lead — it was his 14th home run of the season.
After Nebraska knotted the game up at two, Boe reached on a leadoff single in the third before sophomore Chris Whelan connected on his second home run of the year, a two-run shot to left field to give the Hawkeyes a 3-1 lead.
The Huskers stormed back in the fourth inning, scoring four runs on two hits and one Hawkeye error. A single by Clive, Iowa, native Ben Miller and an error by shortstop Mason McCoy rattled Iowa starting pitcher Nick Gallagher.
With the bases loaded, Gallagher walked in three consecutive runs, to end his day. Nebraska scored their fourth run on a Scott Schreiber RBI single to take the lead 5-3.
“It wasn’t a clean game, by any stretch,” Heller said. “But our guys found a way to keep fighting.”
Trailing 6-3 heading to the sixth, sophomore Robert Neustrom and freshman Ben Norman singled to lead off the inning to give the Hawkeyes momentum. Cropley then delivered a blow, crushing a three-run home run to left center field to tie the game at six. It was his third home run in four games and his fifth of the season.
With Gallagher going just 3 1/3 innings — his shortest outing of the season — Iowa’s bullpen stepped up. The Hawkeyes used three pitchers — Zach Daniels, Nick Nelsen, and Josh Martsching. The trio allowed one run on six hits over 6 2/3 innings.
Nelsen threw two shutout innings and had four strikeouts; Martsching went the final 2 1/3 innings without surrendering a hit for his first victory of the season. He struck out three, while issuing one walk.
“The bullpen did a tremendous job,” Heller said. “Josh came in and closed the deal for us. I’m proud of our guys.”
Nebraska’s Chad Luensmann (1-3) suffered the loss, allowing one run on three hits in three innings of relief.
Four Hawkeyes posted multi-hit games in Adams (3-for-5), Whelan (2-for-5), Neustrom (2-for-5), and Boe (2-for-5). Cropley drove in three runs, while Whelan had a pair.
Game two of the series will begin at 6:05 p.m. (CT) Saturday.