OMAHA, Neb. – Two Penn State pitchers limited the University of Iowa baseball team to two hits in a 5-2 victory in the opening game of the 2022 Big Ten Tournament on Thursday morning at Charles Schwab Field Omaha.
Nittany Lion starter Tyler Shingledecker allowed two runs (one earned) on a single hit over 5 2/3 innings before turning it over to Travis Luensmann, who allowed a single hit over 3 1/3 shutout frames. The duo combined to strike out 15 Hawkeyes.
“It wasn’t our day, we didn’t play very well, but Penn State pitched great,” said Iowa head coach Rick Heller. “The biggest story was how Shingledecker pitched against us. He was tough, a three-pitch mix and pounded both sides of the zone. He had us fooled most of the day and Luensmann did a nice job as well.
“We were not great offensively, but you have to tip your hat to those two.”
Iowa’s pitching staff one-upped Penn State, combining for 17 strikeouts to tie a Big Ten Tournament record, but the three Hawkeyes that took the mound allowed five runs on seven hits in the contest.
Pitching with back spasms, Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Adam Mazur allowed two runs on four hits over five innings, fanning eight, but issuing four walks. Redshirt junior Duncan Davitt allowed three runs and punched out six and redshirt senior Ben Beutel had three strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings.
Penn State had luck on its side in the third when it put two runners on with one out. Mazur got a ground ball to Brendan Sher at third base, but the ball lodged into the webbing on his glove thwarting a potential inning-ending double play.
Instead, the Nittany Lions got a one-out single from Anthony Steele to take a 2-0 lead. Iowa got one run back in the bottom half on a Kyle Huckstorf sacrifice fly, scoring Ben Wilmes from third.
The Hawkeyes went to Davitt in the sixth and he retired the first two batters he faced before putting two runners on via free bases – a hit by pitch and walk. Matt Wood made the Hawkeyes pay, as he belted a three-run homer on a full-count pitch deep to right field, extending the Penn State lead to 5-1.
Iowa put together a two-out rally in the sixth via a Peyton Williams walk and a Keaton Anthony single. Izaya Fullard plated the team’s second run, reaching on a PSU throwing error, but Iowa left two runners on base in the frame.
The Hawkeyes had two bases runners (on two walks) against Luensmann in the final three innings.
“Offensively, we have to forget today,” said redshirt senior Izaya Fullard. “We know what kind of offense we are and we know we are capable of putting up runs. We have to go into every at-bat, be confident and know we’re better than every pitcher we face.”
QUOTING COACH HELLER
“If you think about it, we didn’t hit much, but if we were anywhere else, we hit two home runs and it would have been 5-4. Anthony would have hit a home run and Williams’ ball to center field was gone anywhere we play, it was crushed.
“We have to bounce back and be better. Penn State had a great day, they made pitches and got the big hit by one of the top hitters in the league. Tip the hat and we have to be better tomorrow.
“When you’re in the situation we’re in trying to make an NCAA Regional, we’ve been in that situation the last six weeks really. You have to try to win every game and if you don’t they’re going to use it against you. We need to find a way to win some games here. I know these guys will come out and play hard tomorrow.”
In the last two games, Iowa has scored four runs on just five hits.
Mazur was tagged with the loss, his first since April 2 at Michigan (L, 0-2).
It was the seventh time this season Iowa’s pitching staff has fanned 17 or more batters.
The 17 strikeouts tie Ohio State’s single game record, set in 1985 against Illinois.
The Hawkeyes will play an elimination game on Friday at 9 a.m. (CT) against either No. 2 seed Rutgers or No. 7 Penn State.