The Hawkeyes (10-14, 1-6 Big Ten) stranded 10 runners over the first four frames, leaving the bases loaded in the second and third innings.
“We’ve got to come up with the clutch hit,” said UI head coach Jack Dahm. “Our guys are trying to do too much and we’re taking way too many pitches with guys in scoring position. We’re trying to explain to our players that those at-bats are not any different from at-bats without runners in scoring position.”
The Cornhuskers (12-16, 6-1 Big Ten) led from their first at-bat, scoring four runs in the top of the first inning. Pat Kelly drove in the first run with a single to right center before Kash Kalkowski connected on a two-out, three-run shot to left centerfield to make the score 4-0.
Iowa cut the Nebraska lead in its half the third inning, scoring a pair of runs on four hits. After loading the bases with one out, junior Taylor Zeutenhorst turned a softly hit ground ball into an RBI infield single, scoring classmate Trevor Kenyon. The Hawkeyes scored their second run of the frame in the next at-bat when sophomore Jake Mangler was plunked by Nebraska starting pitcher Christian DeLeon. DeLeon used a strike out and a ground out to escape the inning without allowing any more damage.
Nebraska added a run in the fourth inning, making the score 5-2, before using three-run innings in the top of the fifth and seventh inning to take control of the contest.
Trevor Lubach plated all three runs in the fifth, hitting a bases loaded double to right center field that cleared the bases. The Cornhuskers used two fielder’s choices and a walk to score three runs in the seventh inning before tallying their final run in the ninth.
The Hawkeyes put a single run on the board in the sixth inning. Sophomore Eric Toole opened the frame with a double down the right field line and later scored on a double by sophomore Jake Yacinich. It was Yacinich’s team-leading 17th RBI this season.
Freshmen Blake Hickman and Jimmy Frankos each registered pinch-hit RBIs in the bottom of the ninth, bringing the score to 12-5. Hickman plated Yacinich with a single to right center field, while Frankos hit a fielder’s choice to score Kenyon.
Iowa and Nebraska each tallied 13 hits, but two of Nebraska’s knocks produced six runs (Kalkowski home run, Lubach double). Toole finished with three hits for the Hawkeyes, his second three-hit game in the past four contests. Kenyon tallied two hits for the fifth-straight game, going 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Yacinich (2-for-5) and junior Keith Brand (2-for-4) also collected two hits.
DeLeon picked up the win on the mound, allowing three runs on 10 hits over six innings. The junior improved to 3-2 on the year.
Sophomore Sasha Kuebel was saddled with the loss, allowing eight earned runs in five innings. Freshmen Josh Martsching and Quinten Conrad and senior Ben Bergman all made relief appearances. It was Conrad’s collegiate debut.
The Hawkeyes and Cornhuskers return to Duane Banks Field at 1:05 (CT) tomorrow for the second game of a three-game set.