By AUSTIN BRAMLEY
LINCOLN, Neb. – A three-run seventh-inning sent the University of Iowa baseball team to a 5-3, series-clinching victory over Nebraska on Saturday night at Haymarket Park in front of the Huskers’ largest home crowd since 2015.
“It was a great ball game,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “It was very intense; both teams played well.”
The win gives Iowa its second Big Ten series victory this season and moves the Hawkeyes’ record to 22-11 overall and 5-3 in Big Ten play. It is Iowa’s first series win in Lincoln.
With the game locked at two runs entering the seventh, junior Jake Adams stepped to the plate and delivered a two-run double that dribbled to the right field wall and scored sophomores Mitchell Boe and Chris Whelan to give the Hawkeyes a 4-2 lead.
The next batter, sophomore Robert Neustrom, sent his second double to right field, scoring Adams and extending the Hawkeye lead to 5-2.
Nebraska tried to string together a rally in the seventh. The Huskers loaded the bases and reliever Shane Ritter walked in a run, but a grounder to Boe at second ended the threat when the Naperville, Illinois, native tagged the runner at second and turned the double play to end the inning.
“Mitch made a great play for us turning that double play,” Heller said. “That was a big play in the game.”
Trailing Nebraska 1-0 in the fourth, Neustrom ripped a double down the left field line to get things cooking before junior Austin Guzzo tied things up with a two-out RBI single up the middle. The two-out hitting continued when junior Matt Hoeg skipped a go-ahead RBI single into the gap to score Ben Norman, who walked earlier in the inning.
Iowa starter Ryan Erickson recorded his first win of the year, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits. He struck out six batters in six innings.
“Ryan gave us a great start tonight,” Heller said. “After having to go to the bullpen early last night, Erickson stepped up for us.”
Ritter entered the game in the seventh and tallied a three-inning save. The sophomore didn’t allow a run and surrendered three hits, while striking out one. It was Ritter’s team-leading fourth save of the season.
“Shane did a good job closing the deal for us,” Heller said. “It was a great night all around.”
Nebraska starting pitcher Derek Burkampeer, a Muscatine, Iowa, native, suffered the loss, giving up three runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Three Hawkeyes – Whelan (2-for4), Adams (2-for-4), and Neustrom (2-for-4) — each had multi-hit games. Adams added two RBIs — his 45th and 46th of the season.
The Hawkeyes will go for the series sweep Sunday at 2:02 p.m. (CT). The game will be televised live on BTN.