The Hawkeyes traveled to Lincoln this past weekend for their first road series in two weeks to take on the Cornhuskers, and the trip proved to be a mildly successful one. Thanks to some uncooperative weather forcing a Friday doubleheader and leading to the cancellation of the third game, the two teams were able to trade a couple lopsided defeats to get the weekend started. It really was a tale of two games, as the Hawks took a fourth inning lead against the Huskers in the first game and coasted to victory, while the Huskers took a lead in the third inning of the second game and never relinquished theirs.
As a result of the series split, Iowa continued their streak of winning (read: not losing) series in conference play. While some tough matchups against Minnesota and Michigan (second place and first in the Big Ten, respectively) lay ahead in the coming weeks, Iowa’s done a fine job thus far in Big Ten play, splitting or winning all four of their conference series. They’ve still yet to lose a series in Big Ten play since April 21-23 of last season against Rutgers, which is incredibly impressive and surprisingly finds them in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten standings.
Game 1: Iowa 7, Nebraska 1 (Box Score)
While the Hawks were finally able to string together some runs and put a team away, this game belonged to Nick Allgeyer, as the lefty cruised after a rough first inning. Allgeyer (W, 4-3) struggled in the first after an error and two singles led the game off for the Huskers to put the Hawks in an early 1-0 hole. After a wild pitch put runners on second and third with no outs for Nebraska, the Iowa lefty was able to strike out two batters and coerce the final batter of the inning into a groundout to limit the damage.
Once he got out of that inning, it was all smooth sailing for Allgeyer and the Hawkeyes. His final line on the afternoon would be seven innings pitched and one run (unearned) on five hits and four walks.
At the plate, the Hawks really got things going in the fourth. With the game tied at one, Mitchell Boe came to the plate with runners on second and third and delivered with a one-out double to knock in both runners. Iowa was able to tack on a few insurance runs in the eighth and ninth, as they beat up the Nebraska bullpen. In the eighth, Iowa put together a nice two-out rally - Ben Norman got things started with a double and was chased home on an RBI single by Boe, which led to a pitching change for the Huskers. It didn’t matter much to the Hawks, though, as Chris Whelan and Robert Neustrom both followed with RBI doubles to extend the Iowa lead to 6-1. In the ninth, Justin Jenkins got in on the fun, hitting a two-out double that would score Kyle Crowl all the way from first.
This is one of the most complete games the Hawks have had so far this season. The pitching was excellent and the guys got the job done at the plate, consistently driving the ball to the gaps and legging out extra base hits. More of this, please.
Game 2: Nebraska 10, Iowa 4 (Box Score)
After a solid victory in the first game of the day, the second game got off to a fine enough start that looked like the Hawks would carry the momentum into the evening portion of Friday. Robert Neustrom got Iowa on the board in the first inning with a solo shot to right center, his sixth of the season, but the lead would be short-lived and so would the good vibes.
Brady Schanuel (L, 5-4) and the bullpen just didn’t have it in this game, as the Huskers knocked them around for 10 runs in this contest, all earned. Schanuel relinquished the early lead with a pair of two-run homers in the third inning and Nebraska wouldn’t look back for the remainder of the game. The Iowa righty would only last three innings, giving up four runs on five hits and three walks, driving his pitch count up to 76 pitches.
Iowa showed a little more fight, as they looked to make this a ballgame in the fourth inning. After Neustrom singled to lead off the inning, Tyler Cropley followed with his fourth home run of the season, a two-run shot to left, to cut the deficit to one run. This would, however, be the closest Iowa would come to eliminating the Nebraska lead.
The bullpen was tattooed in this one, combining for six runs allowed on five hits and seven walks through five innings. They just didn’t have an answer for a resurgent Husker offense, but they really didn’t do themselves any favors with the walks. All but one of the Nebraska hitters to have a plate appearance drew at least one walk, showing either really good patience or a complete inability by the Iowa staff to find the zone and make at-bats difficult for them. It’s not necessarily the norm for this whole staff to suffer from a lack of command, but they’ll have to clean this up as the team heads into the stretch run. Less of this, please.
Iowa returns home to take on the Northern Illinois Huskies on Tuesday at 4:30. The Huskies are 11-23 on the year and come into this midweek contest after being swept by Kent State.
Tuesday’s contest will be available for streaming on BTN Plus.