The Iowa baseball team struggled in Evanston, Illinois last weekend. After winning the Friday opener 14-2, they fell on both Saturday and Sunday moving their Big Ten record to .500 (3-3).
They got a bounce back win against Western Illinois during the week, winning that by a final of 4-1 and were traveling for the second straight weekend, but this time it was West to take on the neighboring Nebraska Cornhuskers.
The Huskers were boasting an early 4-1 Big Ten record and were 10-3 in home games on the season. Not to mention they were sending one of the better Friday starters to the bump in Jake Hohensee. But that didn't matter to the visiting Hawkeyes.
They struck early when first basemen Jake Adams belted his conference leading 14th home run of the year over the left center field wall to give Iowa a 1-0 lead. The Huskers would get the run right back in the bottom half of the 2nd when Luis Alvarado - who had a game high 4 hits in 5 trips - scored on a wild pitch after doubling to lead off the inning.
Iowa wasted no time adding more runs to the board in the third. 9-hole hitter Mitchell Boe singled to start off the inning and lead-off man Chris Whelan then promptly belted one over the left field fence to give the Hawkeyes a two-run lead heading into the bottom half of the third.
The Huskers then scored the next five runs - four of which came in the bottom half of the fourth inning - and held a 6-3 advantage heading into the top of the sixth. They had chased Iowa starter Nick Gallagher after just 3.1 innings, but Iowa's long relief has been so solid all season long and that continued on Friday.
One of Iowa's best batters, Robert Neustrom, led off the top of the sixth with a single up the middle to get the Hawkeye rally started. Ben Norman followed suit right after, singling into left field to put runners at first and second for Iowa catcher, Tyler Cropley. Cropley crushed a 3-run home run to left center field not only tying the game, but also hitting Iowa's third home run of the night. We were at square at 6 apiece.
The Huskers got some runners into scoring position over the final couple of innings, but nothing came of it as the Hawkeyes and Huskers headed to extras.
The 10th started with a Cropley hit-by-pitch. Austin Guzzo then did a nice job advancing him to second on a sacrifice bunt. Matt Hoeg found a way to get Cropley to third as he grounded out to short. Iowa's Mitchell Boe then came up with his second hit of the day as he singled into left field with two outs in the inning to net Iowa a 1-run lead in the top of the 10th.
Outside of a 2-out walk, it was smooth sailing for Josh Martsching in the bottom of the 10th. He and the Hawkeyes earned the 7-6 win. Martsching was incredible, tossing 2.1 innings of no-hit ball. The win is his first of the season.
After a rough start by one of the better Friday guys in the conference, Nick Gallagher, the trio of Zach Daniels, Nick Nelsen, and Martsching really did a good job settling down. Those three combined for 6.2 innings pitched, 6 hits, 1 earned, and 8 strikeouts.
The Iowa offense recorded 13 hits with Jake Adams leading the way going 3-for-5. Whelan, Neustrom, and Boe had two hits a piece as well.
After a tough weekend in Evanston, it was nice to see the Hawkeyes grind out a Big Ten road win over the Huskers. They'll have another chance to do so tonight at 6:05 pm in Lincoln. Iowa will send Ryan Erickson (0-1, 3.67 ERA) to the bump, while Nebraska trots out Derek Burkamper (2-2, 3.64 ERA).