Iowa entered Sunday's doubleheader against Nebraska coming off of a 4-3 win over the Cornhuskers on Saturday, highlighted by a pair of great ninth-inning catches to seal it. Game two of the series--Sunday's opener--was no less entertaining.
Sunday Game One
Calvin Mathews pitched well, allowing only three hits in 5 1/3 innings, but Nebraska pushed across a run each in the second and third innings to take an early 2-0 lead. Iowa's offense was slow to start once again, but struck quickly in the sixth, as Eric Toole led off with a base hit and was immediately brought home on a Jake Mangler triple. Iowa failed to tie the game, though, stranding Mangler with a bounce-out to the mound, followed by a walk and a 6-4-3 double play.
Iowa remained down 2-1 heading into its half of the eighth, but a Joel Booker triple to lead off that frame, followed immediately by a Toole sac fly knotted the game at two. Mangler then doubled, and two Hawkeyes walked following a foul territory pop-out. But Nick Roscetti could not give Iowa the lead, grounding out to short and leaving the bags full.
Nebraska got nobody past first base in the top of the ninth, and Iowa made two quick outs to start the home half. Booker notched a two-out single, though, and moved to second when Toole did the same. Then Mangler came up and delivered a base hit through the right side as well. Coach Heller gave Booker the wave-around to try to score the winning run. Booker was pegged at the plate for the third out to send the game to extra innings.
Nick Hibbing recorded a 1-2-3 tenth inning for Iowa. In the bottom of the tenth, Kris Goodman notched a one-out double to again put the winning run in scoring position for Iowa. The Huskers then issued a free pass to Iowa's Corbin Woods. Nick Roscetti followed with an infield hit to load the bases, bringing up Eric Schenck-Joblinske. ESJ worked a 2-2 count, but went down swinging. Iowa catcher Jimmy Frankos entered the batter's box; Frankos carried a less-than-good .156 average into this series, but improved from his less-than-less-than-good .088 entering the Maryland series two weeks ago. Frankos worked a full count. He then appeared to get jammed a bit, but muscled a bloop out to left field. Husker leftfielder Christian Cox made a dive/slide thing at the ball and appeared to make a spectacular threat-ending catch. But as Cox rolled on the grass and got up, the ball was revealed on the turf underneath him. Goodman crossed home plate, tossed his helmet, and ran to join the mob of Hawkeye players around Frankos just past first base. And, oh, a sellout crowd of 2,506 applauded vigorously. Go Iowa Awesome.
Sunday Game Two
Not to do injustice to a game that Iowa pretty much controlled throughout, but I'll spare the blow-by-blow account of Iowa's 5-1 win in the series finale to polish off the sweep. Tyler Peyton, pushed back to third in the rotation this weekend due to his scheduled Friday start getting rained out, was straight business from the start. He struck out nine in 8 1/3, allowing just eight hits, one run (earned), and walking none. Iowa's offense pounded out ten hits in 4 1/3 innings against Husker starter Derek Burkamper, and scored in the second, third, fourth, and fifth innings, building a 5-0 lead before the Nebraska bullpen got involved. The principal Hawkeye offensive producer was Toole, who went 3-5 with a triple and 2 RBI, plus his 21st stolen base of the year.
B1G Standings Watch
One unfortunate thing about this weekend was that Illinois (36-6-1, 13-1) remained a half game ahead of Iowa (30-11, 13-2) for the Big Ten lead, and Ohio State (31-10, 12-3) and Maryland (30-13, 11-4) remained a game and two games, respectively behind Iowa for second place, as each of those three teams swept opponents at the bottom of the standings. But still, for Iowa to not lose ground when it was playing the No. 17 team in RPI was a pretty big win this weekend for the Black and Gold. We'll peer at our peers' schedules in this coming weekend's preview, but things don't get easier for the Hawkeyes, as they visit Michigan, which sits in fifth place at 27-17, 11-7. The full standings are here.
Iowa moved up to #18 in the new D1Baseball poll and #16 in the new Baseball America rankings. They improved their real-time RPI ranking to #27. We'll try to update this post (and the comments) with the other new rankings as they're released.
As we've been doing, we'll end this with highlights from Sunday, courtesy of @UIBaseball.
A video recap of Sunday's wins against Nebraska with highlights, and reaction from Coach Heller and four Hawkeyes: http://t.co/tzehWiUVF3— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) April 27, 2015