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No. 15 Iowa blanks Michigan; takes series

logo_iowa_hawkeyesANN ARBOR, Mich. — Junior Calvin Mathews and senior Nick Hibbing combined for a four-hit shutout, leading the 15th-ranked University of Iowa baseball team to a 2-0 series-clinching victory over Michigan on Sunday afternoon at the Wilpon Complex.

The series win is Iowa’s first over the Wolverines since 2010, and it is the team’s seventh straight series win in Big Ten play dating back to 2014 season. Iowa is 33-12 overall and 15-3 in Big Ten play, clinching a berth in the 2015 Big Ten Tournament.

“I loved our approach today,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “It was very business-like and professional. Our older guys did a great job and I knew we were ready to play. Today was a great day; it showed the character of this team, their toughness, and will to win.”

Mathews and Hibbing combined to limit Michigan — a team that entered the game with a league-leading .303 average — to four hits. Mathews scattered three hits over six innings, tying a season-high, while Hibbing closed out the game, allowing only a one-out single in the seventh.

Hibbing sat Michigan down in order in the eighth and ninth inning to notch his team-leading fifth save of the season. It was Iowa’s 15th save this year, tying a single-season school record, and the team’s third shutout.

“Calvin did what we needed him to do,” said Heller. “He has that Friday night mentality. He went out and pitched fantastic, executed the game plan, located his pitches, changed speeds, and with the wind blowing in, he used that to his advantage. He handled the Michigan hitters.

“Nick was good as well, located, threw well, and changed speeds. Those two combined for a four-hitter against one of the best — if not the best — offensive hitting team in our league.”

Iowa scratched across its first run in the third inning when junior Tyler Peyton roped a two-out RBI single to center field to plate Nick Day, who started the frame by reaching on a one-out single. It was Day’s first time in the lineup since April 13 because of injury.

After loading the bases with one out, but coming away empty in the fourth, the Hawkeyes stretched their lead to 2-0 in the fifth. Senior Eric Toole led off the inning with a single before stealing second for his 24th swipe of the season.

Following a Jake Mangler walk, Toole advanced 90 feet to third base on a Peyton fly out to right field before scoring on a ground ball off the bat of senior Kris Goodman. Mangler broke up a potential double play with a hard slide into second base.

The Hawkeyes finished with 12 hits in the game with three players posting multi-hit games. Peyton went 3-for-5 with an RBI, junior Nick Roscetti went 3-for-4, and junior Joel Booker went 2-for-3.

Michigan starter Brett Adcock (6-4) suffered the loss, allowing two runs on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings.

“I was happy with our offense,” said Heller. “We battled against some good arms and on a day when it was not easy to score runs, we put ourselves in position to all day long.”

Iowa closes out midweek action Tuesday, hosting Western Illinois at Banks Field in a 6:35 p.m. (CT) start.

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