Quite A Day for Hawkeyes
The Iowa baseball team has enjoyed a storybook season filled with incredible comebacks. It experienced its finest Day Wednesday at Target Field in Minneapolis.
The second-seeded Hawkeyes were down to their last strike, trailing No. 7 Ohio State by a run in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. Oft-injured senior third baseman Nick Day (Solon, IA) dug in the batter’s box and lifted a low, inside pitch into the left field stands.
The walk-off blast gave Iowa a 3-2 win and kept alive its hopes of hosting an NCAA Tournament Regional. It set up a second-round meeting with Michigan on Thursday (5 p.m. CT, BTN). The third-seeded Wolverines knocked off No. 6 Indiana, 4-1, earlier on Wednesday.
“I got a couple fastballs to hit early and I don’t know why I didn’t swing at them, but then I was expecting a slider and it was a pretty decent pitch and I don’t know how I got to it. I’m still in shock,” Day said.
The Hawkeyes, who improved to 39-14 on the season, will throw right-hander Blake Hickman, a first-team all-Big Ten selection, at Michigan on Thursday.
Iowa hit a Big Ten low 13 homers during the regular season. Day connected for his team-high fourth.
“It was great. It’s a big sigh of relief coming off a weekend where we stubbed our toe a little bit at Rutgers with a couple of close games," Coach Rick Heller said. "It would’ve been tough on us to lose another one run game and have to get up and play at nine in the morning against a really good team (Indiana). All of the guys can take a deep breath now and hopefully we’ll come out and play our best baseball (Thursday).”
The Hawkeyes scored first on Wednesday when it manufactured a run in the second inning. Kris Goodman walked to start the frame and Grant Klenovich followed with a single. Nick Roscetti moved the runners up a base with a sacrifice bunt and Goodman came home on a Jimmy Frankos groundout.
Iowa clung to the 1-0 lead until the top of the seventh inning when the Buckeyes (35-19) tied it up. Ohio State chased Hawkeye starter Tyler Peyton, who allowed a run on eight hits and no walks while striking out 7 in 6 1/3 innings.
Three-hole hitter Pat Porter took Iowa reliever Nick Hibbing deep in the top of the eighth inning. The right fielder’s 11th homer of the year provided the Buckeyes with a 2-1 lead that held up with two outs in the bottom ninth.
Pinch-hitter Eric Schenck-Joblinske worked a walk off of OSU reliever Trace Dempsey. Day then fell behind in the count, 1-2, before delivering his heroic homer.
"A big at bat by Eric Schenck-Joblinske before Nick hit the home run. That was clutch work to get
the walk in, to get on base and get Nick out there. Then, great job by Nick, clutching up and coming through,” Heller said.
Twenty one of Iowa’s games have been decided by two runs or less. Wednesday’s win pushed the Hawkeyes to 16-7 in such contests.
"It just shows, not just Nick only, but this whole team never gives up, that we never stop fighting. Day definitely proved that,” Peyton said.