IOWA CITY, Iowa – Illinois scored five runs in the top of the ninth inning for a series-clinching 9-5 victory over the University of Iowa baseball team on Sunday afternoon at Duane Banks Field.
The loss snaps Iowa’s two series winning streak and drops the Hawkeyes’ record to 16-12 overall, 3-3 in Big Ten play.
After battling to a 4-4 tie through eight innings, Illinois put up a five spot in the top of the ninth on one hit, five walks (one intentional) and an error.
With runners on second and third and one out, the Hawkeyes got a chopper off the bat of Brandon Comia to first, but Peyton Williams’ errant throw was up the line, allowing Illinois to score the go-ahead run.
Illinois made it 6-4 on an RBI ground out before scoring pushing its final three runs across on a hit by pitch and back-to-back walks. Iowa was forced to use four pitchers in the inning.
“When we fought back and tied it, it looked like one of these days where we could win it in the bottom of the ninth and feel good, walk it off and win the series,” said head coach Rick Heller. “Unfortunately, we took a step back in our bullpen. We went to the guys that were on the board after yesterday and they didn’t get it done.
“We give up five runs on one hit. There is not much else to say. It can’t happen.”
The Hawkeyes stormed out to a 2-0 lead through the first three innings courtesy of solo home runs from Ben Tallman and Williams. Tallman’s blast was a 458-foot shot to left field for his first career home run.
After cruising through the first six innings, sophomore Ty Langenberg found trouble in the seventh. The Illini had three hits in the inning, including a two-run single through the left side of the infield to give Illinois a 3-2 lead.
The Illini tacked on their fourth run in the fourth on a solo home run from Taylor Jackson in the seventh before Iowa rallied after the stretch.
After back-to-back walks from Tallman and Ben Wilmes to start the inning, a Michael Seegers’ sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position. Williams’ RBI ground out made the score 4-3 before redshirt freshman Keaton Anthony doubled to left center to tie the game at four.
QUOTING COACH HELLER
‘Today was exactly what I thought it would be, a tough-fought game. Langenberg gave us a good chance, but he had a rough sixth when he was down in pitches. Going into the six, I thought it was a game where he might get a complete game because he was sharp early.”
– Iowa hit two home runs for the second straight game and for the fourth time this season.
– Anthony finished 2-for-4 with a double – his team-leading 14th of the season. It was Anthony’s 11th multi-hit game this season.
The Hawkeyes return to action Tuesday, traveling to Franklin, Wis., to face Milwaukee at 4 p.m. (CT).