HoosiersLose Two Heartbreakers
IOWA CITY, Iowa - The Indiana baseball team lost two heartbreakers to Iowa on Saturday afternoon at Duane Banks Field, as the Hawkeyes scored in their final at-bats in both ballgames. Iowa (14-15, 8-3 Big Ten) took the opener, 7-6, while defeating the Hoosiers (18-15, 2-9 Big Ten), 3-2, in eight innings in the nightcap.
After each team scored two runs in the first inning of game two, neither team re-entered the scoring column until Iowa corralled the game winner in the bottom of the eighth. Hoosier starter Brian Lortz (2-3) was masterful in 7 1/3 innings pitched but was the tough-luck loser. The senior retired designated hitter Skyler Moss to open the eighth before shortstop Andy Lytle hit a sharp single to center, and right fielder Nate Yoho lined a base knock to right, advancing Lytle to third.
Freshman Chris McCombs relieved Lortz and faced catcher Kris Welker, who lifted a fly ball to senior right fielder Joe Kemp that was just deep enough to bring in Lytle with the victorious tally. Welker knocked in Lytle with the winning run in the first game as well.
It appeared the Hoosiers were ready to break the deadlock in the seventh. Sophomore shortstop Josh Richardson hit a shot just inside the first base bag and it rolled into the right field corner, letting Richardson head to third with a leadoff triple. Two batters later, junior center fielder Reggie Watson hit a tapper in front of the mound, and Tim Gudex grabbed it and tagged out Richardson before he could slide into home plate. The southpaw proceeded to pick off Watson to end the threat.
Gudex (5-3) returned to pitch a scoreless eighth, claiming his second victory of the day. The junior fired 1 2/3 innings without walking a batter and striking out one. On the day, Gudex threw 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, giving up two hits with four strikeouts and no walks.
Lortz closed out the game surrendering two earned runs on seven hits to go along with no base on balls and three strikeouts.
Junior first baseman Ryan Parker concluded the contest with two hits in three at-bats and one RBI, while Richardson was 2-for-3. Watson and junior left fielder Jay Brant each scored a run and stole a base.
Sending seven men to the plate, IU opened the game by putting a two-spot on the board in the top of the first. Watson was the catalyst, leading off with a base knock to center and promptly stealing second for his 14th stolen base of the season. Following a walk to Brant and a pop out, Parker stroked a double down the left field line off hurler Travis Sweet, driving in Watson for a 1-0 Hoosier lead.
Junior designated hitter Zach Boswell gave Indiana a two-run cushion, grounding out to first baseman Dusty Napoleon as Brant scampered home.
Iowa bounced back with a couple of runs in the bottom of the first (one earned) to even things up and it remained deadlocked into the third when Indiana put runners on the corners with one down for Boswell. Sweet dodged the bullet, inducing Boswell to ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 twin-killing.
The Cream and Crimson threatened again in the fourth but could not collect a timely hit. This time, sophomore third baseman Michael Nilles worked a one-out walk, and Richardson stung a base hit back through the box to place runners on first and second. As was the case the previous inning, Sweet shut the door, striking out senior catcher Kurt Weigle and forcing Watson to ground out to second baseman Jason White to retire the side.
Meanwhile, Lortz locked it into cruise control after the first, holding the Hawks in check until a single by Napoleon and a catcher's interference allowed third baseman Andy Cox to reach with one down in the fourth. Lortz mowed down White swinging before Parker turned in the defensive highlight of the series, skying to rob left fielder Nate Price of extra bases on a rocket headed for the right field corner, keeping the ballgame even at 2-2.
Trailing 5-2 entering the fifth in the opener, the Cream and Crimson squared the contest with Nilles kicking off the charge, hitting a sinking liner in front of Yoho in right field. A wild pitch moved Nilles to second for Richardson, who hit a shot back through the middle to bring Nilles home.
Freshman catcher Jon Fixler sacrificed Richardson to second, and Watson followed with a hustle double to
The Hawkeyes regained the lead in the bottom of the stanza when Cox greeted reliever Steve Nielsen (1-3) with a gapper to right center field, driving home Napoleon for a 6-5 Iowa advantage.
Indiana responded in the sixth after Parker and Boswell ripped back-to-back singles to open the inning, putting runners on first and third for second baseman Corby Heckman. The senior dropped a perfect bunt down the first base line, executing his second suicide squeeze in three games and plating Parker to knot the game at 6-6.
However, Welker laced a single just out of the reach of Richardson, and Lytle touched home with the game-winning tally in the bottom of the sixth.
Gudex, who entered with one out in the top of the sixth, set the final five Hoosiers down in order to pick up the victory.
Failing to cross the plate in the series opener on Friday evening, IU jumped on the board with one first-inning run. Watson and Brant lined singles through the right side of the infield off Iowa starter Casey O'Rourke to jumpstart the rally. With runners on the corners, Kemp grounded into a double play, but Watson trotted home with the Hoosiers' first run of the weekend.
Making his first collegiate start, sophomore Joe Trucchio struggled in the bottom half of the first as the Hawks posted two runs before recording an out. Lytle singled in left fielder Nathan Price, and Yoho delivered an RBI base knock to score Moss.
Iowa kept the line moving when Lytle crossed home on a ground out, and Napoleon knocked in Yoho for the fourth and final run in the frame.
Price led off the game with a base hit, snapping Trucchio's streak without allowing a hit at seven innings. In addition, Price's run broke the right-hander's scoreless stretch at 8 2/3 frames.
Fixler put another Hoosier score on the board in the third as Brant legged out a potential double play, narrowly beating the relay throw from Lytle to make it 4-2.
The Hawekeyes got the run back in the home half of the inning and loaded the bases with two outs, but junior Clint Crosier got pinch hitter Justin Petty to ground into a force out to retire the side without any further harm.
Crosier ended up tossing two innings, holding Iowa to one run on no hits with one base on balls and one strikeout.
Offensively, Watson went 2-for-4 with one RBI and two runs to go along with a double and stolen base. Richardson added a 1-for-3 effort with one RBI and one run, and Brant drove in a couple of runs as well as swiping a base.
The teams conclude the four-game set tomorrow, Sunday, April 17. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. at Duane Banks Field.
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