Perhaps Monday wasn’t a must win game for the Iowa baseball team.
But after Indiana scored 20 runs on 30 hits to win the first two games of the series over the weekend, Monday was a welcomed change.
Until the eighth inning.
Iowa held a 1-0 lead after seven innings and starter Tyler Peyton had allowed just four hits all day to the Hoosiers, a team that advanced to the College World Series in 2013 and boasts the Big Ten’s best offense this spring.
Eight batters came to the plate in the eighth for Indiana as it scored five runs on five hits en route to a 5-3 win over the Hawkeyes at Duane Banks Field. Iowa (16-12, 3-6 Big Ten) has now lost five straight Big Ten games, including the series sweep to Indiana (18-10, 8-1).
“We have to find a way to win that game after getting a pitching performance like we had,” Iowa coach Rick Heller said. “It’s very disappointing. When you have an opportunity to beat a team like that. … We all need to be better than we were today.”
Peyton’s final pitching line was a run on five hits while walking one and striking out four in seven innings. Tyler Radtke followed, and was blitzed for four runs on four hits and one walk. He recorded just one out. Nick Hibbing limited the damage with 1 2/3 perfect innings.
Iowa’s first run came in the fifth when Nick Roscetti singled in Nick Day, who led off the frame with a walk. The Hawkeyes had the bases loaded with no outs in the bottom of the ninth, but only two runners were able to touch home in the comeback attempt. Shortstop Jake Yacinich was the only Hawkeye to post a multi-hit performance, going 2-for-3 with a walk.
“If you’re going to beat them, you have to score in the first inning, or at least have better at-bats,” Heller said. “We kind of sleep walked for five or six innings and didn’t play our best baseball.
In three games, Indiana outscored the Black and Gold 25-9. The Hoosiers’ No. 2 and 3 hitters, two of the most highly regarded players, not only in the Big Ten but the nation — Kyle Schwarber and Sam Travis — combined to go 11-for-28 with six RBIs.
“That’s the good thing about this sport: You’re going to play tomorrow,” Yacinich said. “We play so much. We have to keep getting better and keep our confidence high, and we’ll be all right.”
The Hawkeyes are in the midst of eight games in nine days, so there is an opportunity to bounce back — and quickly. After the three-game series with Indiana, Heller’s squad begins a midweek set with Kansas today and Wednesday at Duane Banks Field, followed by three games at Northwestern beginning Friday.
After stranding 30 runners on base and allowing as many runs as they did in the sweep to the Hoosiers, the Hawkeyes don’t have time to dwell on things.
“Our expectations need to be higher. When you come to the ballpark on a day like today, and we have opportunities to score runs in the first couple innings and we don’t, that can’t happen,” Heller said. “If we’re going to make a jump and do things to turn the program around like we’ve talked about, today’s the day we had a chance to win. It hurts.”