IOWA CITY, Iowa — Sophomore Sasha Kuebel threw eight strong innings and junior Bryan Niedbalski delivered a go-ahead RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning to lead the University of Iowa baseball team to a 2-1 victory over Michigan State at Duane Banks Field.
The victory clinched a series win for the Hawkeyes, their first series win of the season. Iowa defeated Michigan State in the series opener, 6-2, on Friday.
“It was a great win,” said UI head coach Jack Dahm. “It started on the mound with a great pitching performance by both pitchers. Sasha did a tremendous job for us. Niedbalski was a great story and ended up being the hero.”
The Hawkeyes (19-26, 7-13) scored the game’s first run on two hits in the bottom of the second inning, taking a 1-0 lead. Niedbalski led-off the inning with a double to right centerfield, setting up an RBI single by sophomore Anthony Torres.
Kuebel kept Michigan State off the scoreboard until the top of the eighth inning. The Spartans pushed across one run on two hits in the frame, evening the score 1-1. Blaise Salter drove in the run, hitting a double just beyond the reach of Iowa left fielder Taylor Kaufman to score Jimmy Pickens from first base.
Iowa responded by regaining the lead, 2-1, in its half of the eighth. Sophomore Nick Day reached on a fielding error to open the frame and advanced to second courtesy of a sacrifice bunt by classmate Eric Toole. Day moved to third after a wild pitch before being driven in by Niedbalski with two outs.
Sophomore Nick Hibbing closed out the win for Kuebel in the ninth, collecting his team-best fourth save this season after holding Michigan State scoreless. Kuebel pitched eight innings, allowing one run on seven hits to pick up his second win of the year.
“Sasha did a tremendous job battling,” Dahm said “He was able to keep his composure with guys in scoring position. Hibbing did a great job when he came in too. He really challenged those guys.”
Niedbalski finished 3-for-4 at the plate, tallying his first multi-hit game this season. The three hits tied a career best. Niedbalski provided a go-ahead RBI for the second straight weekend, as he delivered a sacrifice fly in the top of the 12th inning May 4 at Michigan.
The Hawkeyes (19-26, 7-13) close out the series tomorrow at Duane Banks Field, beginning at 1:05 p.m. (CT). Prior to first pitch, Iowa will recognize its six-player senior class, before the Hawkeyes go for their first Big Ten sweep since 2010.