By AUSTIN BRAMLEY
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Three University of Iowa errors were costly in a 5-3 loss to Rutgers in game two of the weekend series Saturday night at Duane Banks Field.
The loss snapped the Hawkeyes’ nine-game home winning streak and drops the team’s record to 23-14 overall and 6-5 in Big Ten play.
“Rutgers played well,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “Their starting pitcher gave them a great start.”
Scarlet Knight starter Serafino Brito (3-6) scattered nine hits and allowed one run over six innings. He had four strikeouts while issuing one walk to pick up his third victory of the season.
Iowa jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the third off a Chris Whelan solo home run to left field before Rutgers scored five unanswered runs.
It started in the fourth inning when Mike Martinez drew a leadoff walk. Rutgers’ Tom Marcinczyk then reached on a Ryan Erickson fielding error and both runners moved to second and third when Erickson’s throwing error sailed into right field. The Scarlet Knights capitalized, tying the game on an RBI groundout before taking the lead on Chris Folinusz’s RBI single.
Rutgers extended its lead to 3-1 in the fifth when Milo Freeman doubled to left field and advanced to third on a Matt Hoeg fielding error. Freeman scored on a Tyler Cropley passed ball.
“We weren’t disciplined tonight and it cost us,” Heller said.
Rutgers stretched its lead to 5-1, scoring single runs in the sixth and ninth innings.
Trailing 5-1 heading into the ninth, Iowa tried to rally. Hoeg reached on a throwing error to start the frame before Whelan connected on his second long ball of the game. The Naperville, Illinois, hit a two-run home run to left field against Rutgers closer Max Herrmann to cut the deficit to 5-3, but Hermann closed out the game, striking out Mason McCoy and Jake Adams to even the series.
“I was just hunting a fast ball up in the zone,” Whlean said. “Luckily he elevated a few and I was able to get to them.”
Erickson (1-2) was solid in the start, giving up four runs on six hits over six innings. Only one of the four runs were earned. Senior Josh Martsching pitched the final three innings, giving up just one run on four hits while striking out two.
“We got a great start out of Ryan,” Heller said. “He pitched well; he just hurt himself with the errors.”
Three Hawkeyes had multi-hit days as Iowa finished with 10 hits. Whelan finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs, Adams was 2-for-5, and Cropley was 3-for-4 — his second three-hit game of the season. Iowa stranded nine in the game and finished just 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
The rubber match of the weekend series begins at 12:05 p.m. (CT) Sunday afternoon.