By AUSTIN BRAMLEY
IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa starting pitchers Nick Gallagher and Ryan Erickson combined to allow two earned runs over 15 1/3 innings to send the Hawkeyes to a doubleheader sweep of Penn State on Friday night at Duane Banks Field. The Hawkeyes won the opener, 4-2, before taking the night cap that spilled over into Saturday morning, 8-2.
“I’m happy with today,” said UI head coach Rick Heller, whose team improved to 26-15 overall and 8-6 in Big Ten play. “We got two quality starts from our pitchers and that helped us.”
Gallagher (6-1) struck out eight batters through the first three innings to set the tone on the mound in game one. He scattered three hits and allowed two runs (one earned), while fanning a career-high 10 batters.
“After not pitching as well as I would have liked (in my last two starts), I focused on getting ahead in the count tonight,” Gallagher said. “It was nice to get some strikeouts early.”
Senior Ryan Erickson (2-2) followed Gallagher’s lead and had a career-long performance. He logged 7 1/3 innings in the night cap, scattering four hits and allowing one run to lead the Hawkeyes to a series-clinching victory.
The Hawkeyes scored single runs in second, third, and fourth innings. Junior Austin Guzzo drove in the first run of the game with an RBI single to center field, sophomore Robert Neustrom scored the second run on a Penn State error in the third, and senior Mason McCoy’s sacrifice fly in the fourth stretched the margin to 3-0.
After the Nittany Lions scored in the fifth, Iowa got the run back in the bottom half on a Matt Hoeg sacrifice fly to center field to knock in Neustrom. Penn State scored its second run in the sixth when Mason Nadeau led off the inning with a triple and scored on an RBI groundoug.
“I was happy with our guys at the plate tonight,” Heller said. “We left some runners on, but I was pleased with our plate discipline.”
Senior Josh Martsching recorded his fourth save of the year in the opener, getting the final three outs. Martsching also entered in the ninth of the night cap, entering with the bases loaded and nobody out.
“Martsching did a good job shutting it down for us in both games tonight,” Heller said.
Sal Biasi (4-5), suffered the loss in the opener, giving up two runs (one earned) on four hits in three innings pitched.
The Hawkeyes jumped on Penn State in game two, scoring four runs in the second and two runs in the fourth to break the game open. After a Neustrom leadoff walk and a single by Cropley, a Guzzo RBI groundout put the Hawkeyes on the board. Sophomore Mitchell Boe pushed the lead to 3-0, lacing a two-run double down the left field line.
“It was nice to see Mitch get it going tonight,” Heller said. “He has been battling, so it was nice see him come through for us.”
Iowa blew the game open with an extra-base variety in the fourth. Guzzo and junior Matt Hoeg had back-to-back doubles to start the inning — Guzzo scored on Hoeg’s gapper — before Boe extended the lead to 6-0 on an RBI triple to right field.
The Hawkeyes added single runs in the seventh and eighth innings. Neustrom had an RBI groundout in the seventh before pinch-hitter Grant Judkins belted a solo home run down the right-field line for his first career home run. He is the 10th different Hawkeye to hit a home run this season.
Iowa goes for the series sweep Saturday; first pitch is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. (CT). Follow @UIBaseball on Twitter for the latest game updates.