Rutgers avoids series sweep by rallying late to defeat Iowa baseball
Iowa scores game's first six runs, but loses 8-7
PISCATAWAY, N.J. – The University of Iowa baseball team (15-10) scored the game’s first six runs in the series finale against Rutgers, but the Scarlett Knights (12-12) scored the final seven runs to escape with an 8-7 win and spoil Iowa’s seven-game winning streak.
“It’s disappointing to be that close to a four-game sweep over a good Rutgers team on the road,” head coach Rick Heller said. “To their credit, they didn’t quit and fought back. They found a way to steal one from us on Sunday.”
The Hawkeye offense chased Rutgers starter Justin Sinibaldi out of the game after two and 1/3 innings, scoring three runs in the second and third inning to take a 6-0 lead through three.
Redshirt senior Ben Norman blasted his a three-run home run in the second inning for his team-leading ninth of the season, scoring redshirt sophomore Brendan Sher and redshirt senior Austin Martin.
The first three Hawkeyes reached on two walks and a hit-by-pitch the following inning. Redshirt senior Matthew Sosa drove in Iowa’s fourth run of the game on a fielder’s choice, before Martin laced a ground rule double down the left field line to plate two more Iowa runs.
Trailing 6-0, Rutgers went to the bullpen and Iowa’s offense didn’t’ have an answer for left-handed reliever Jared Bellissimo, who blanked Iowa in four and 1/3 innings of relief, allowing only one hit and two walks.
Iowa tacked on a run in the eighth on a Norman sacrifice fly to make it a 7-1 game. Rutgers, however, stormed all the way back scoring five runs in the eighth and two runs in the ninth.
Redshirt junior Dylan Nedved allowed the first four Scarlet Knights to reach base, allowing Rutgers to score a run. The fifth batter of the inning, Evan Sleight, cleared the bases with a grand slam to cut Iowa’s lead to 7-6.
In the bottom of the ninth, Rutgers loaded the bases on two singles and a hit batsman to load the bases. Redshirt senior Grant Leonard couldn’t work out of the jam in his second inning of work, allowing the tying run to score on the second hit-by-pitch of the inning, before Rutgers won the game on a fielding error by Sosa at third base.
Redshirt sophomore starting pitcher Duncan Davitt churned out a career-high seven strikeouts over five innings of work. He allowed only one run on four hits and one walk and escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth inning.
Redshirt senior Trace Hoffman relieved Davitt, tossing two scoreless innings of relief, while adding two strikeouts.
QUOTING HEAD COACH RICK HELLER
“It started out exactly like we had hoped. We got a tremendous start out of Duncan Davitt. He pitched great today. Trace Hoffman was good out of the bullpen for two innings. We scored six runs in the first four innings – got their starter out just like we hoped to. Then the bats went quiet and their left-hander came in and shut us down for the rest of the game. We didn’t do a good enough job with runners in scoring position to break the game open.”
“Unfortunately, our bullpen, for the first time this year, really collapsed. Nedved didn’t have it today. Leonard same story. Once they started to get the rally going, they started to nickel and dime us. They had some bloop hits and balls that weren’t hit well that found holes. Unfortunately, that’s what happens when you give up free bases late in the game.”
- The Iowa offense only had five hits today but drew six walks and only struck out four times at the dish.
- Norman (4) and Martin (2) combined for six of Iowa’s seven RBIs. Norman tallied his third four-RBI game of the season.
- Peyton Williams (16), Norman (13), and Sosa (11) extended their on-base streaks.
Iowa hosts its first pod of the season next weekend, April 23-26, at Duane Banks Field. The Hawkeyes will face Maryland on Friday and Saturday and Northwestern on Sunday and Monday. Iowa is 2-0 against Maryland this season and have yet to face Northwestern.