Consider this. Nick Gallagher, Iowa’s starting pitcher, was charged with five walks in 3.1 innings, including four in a row in the fourth inning, three with the bases loaded.
Also consider that Nebraska batters struck out 10 times; the Huskers left 14 runners on base, including three in the fourth and fifth innings; and Iowa hit three home runs.
Now draw a conclusion. Does a 7-6 Iowa victory in 10 innings sound about right?
It should because that’s what happened at Hawks Field on Friday night.
“We had a chance to put a lot more on the board, didn’t do it, and there you go, come back tomorrow,” Coach Darin Erstad said following Nebraska’s second Big Ten loss.
The game was “hard-fought,” he said. “It doesn’t matter (if) you win by 50 or lose by one; you flush it, (and) go to the next day. (It) doesn’t have any bearing on tomorrow.”
The Huskers battled, no question. But it was apparent from the first inning, when, with two outs, Iowa’s Jake Adams hit Jake Hohensee’s first pitch over the left-field fence that Nebraska would be in for a tussle against a lineup with five players hitting over .300, four of them .342 or higher.
Adams’ home run was his 14th of the season. Chris Whelan hit a two-run home run in the third inning, after Nebraska’s Luis Alvarado tied the score on a Gallagher wild pitch in the second, and Tyler Cropley hit a three-run home run to tie the game in the sixth, after the Huskers had taken a 6-3 lead.
Cropley went into the game with a .217 batting average.
“They’ve got some power, and we throw it thigh-high down the middle of the plate . . . they’re going to hurt you, and that’s what they did,” said Erstad. “Jake was up all night.
“Everything was up . . . and they’re an aggressive-hitting team. When you miss up, you’re going to get hurt, especially with the fastball, and that was kind of how it worked.”
Hohensee, the Big Ten pitcher of the week after allowing one run on three hits in 8.1 innings against Maryland a week ago, gave up eight hits and six earned runs in 5.1 innings.
“When you’re not locating your pitches, stuff happens. We know that,” Erstad said. “Jake’s been fantastic for us. He was up today and got hurt a couple of times.”
Even so, the score was tied when he gave way to Robbie Palkert, who was replaced by Chad Luensmann to start the eighth inning. Luensmann set the Hawkeyes up and down in order in the eighth and escaped the ninth with the bases loaded. But he hit Cropley leading off the 10th inning.
Cropley advanced to second on a sacrifice, moved to third on a ground out and scored on a first-pitch single by Mitchell Boe, who was batting ninth in the order.
Luis Alvarado, 4-for-5 with two runs scored, was on deck with runners at first and second in the bottom of the 10th when Ben Miller took a called third strike to end the game.
Iowa improved to 21-11 overall and 4-3 in the Big Ten, while the Huskers dropped to 20-12-1 and 4-2-1. Game two is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. on Saturday, with senior right-hander Derek Burkamper (2-2, 3.64) pitching for Nebraska and senior left-hander Ryan Erickson (0-1, 3.67) for Iowa.
Mike is in his 40th year covering Husker athletics, after seven years of community-college teaching. He has written and edited a dozen books, all on Nebraska football except one, a brief history of Husker basketball. He previously wrote for the Lincoln Journal and Star and Huskers Illustrated. He enjoys music, from the Grateful Dead and Jack Johnson to Van Morrison, Bob Wills, Glenn Miller and pretty much anyone else.