Iowa baseball defeats Central Michigan 4-2 for series-clinching win at chilly Duane Banks Field
Freshman Sam Petersen smacks 2-run single in eighth to propel Iowa
By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Rick Heller had just watched freshman outfielder Sam Petersen swing wildly at an off-speed pitch that landed about four feet in front of home plate when Heller asked for a timeout.
Heller and Petersen then had a brief conversation near the third base coaching box in which Heller gave Petersen some simple advice with two strikes.
“He just said calm down,” Petersen said. “He can tell, and the whole coaching staff can tell when I get a little fired up being a freshman playing at this level. You can get away from yourself, so he just did a really good moment, he pulled me aside and reminded me you’re a good hitter, relax and get the pitch you want and drive it.”
Petersen then jumped all over a high fast ball and smacked it to left centerfield, driving in two runs with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning that proved to be difference in Iowa’s 4-2 series-clinching win over Central Michigan on Sunday at a chilly Duane Banks Field.
“I’m kind of always a hitter that likes to sit fastball, but with two strikes you’ve got to be ready to hit everything,” Petersen said. “But he gave a fastball up in the zone and I was able to stay on top of it and hit a line drive with it.”
Sophomore Jacob Henderson then retired the side in the top of ninth to give Iowa two wins in the three-game series.
Iowa has won six of its last eight games and is 12-9 heading into Tuesday’s game at Illinois State.
Iowa will begin conference play next Friday at Michigan in a three-game series.
Heller was pleased with how his team bounced back from a disastrous 10-1 loss to Central Michigan on Saturday, a performance that he called embarrassing.
“After the day we had yesterday, the important part was us showing up and fighting hard today and giving a good effort and wiping how bad yesterday was away,” Heller said. “And we definitely did that. There were a lot of positives today, and obviously, there were plenty of negatives, too.
“But the fight was there and there was no giving up.”
Iowa has been hampered this season by allowing free bases, and while that was the case again on Sunday as the Iowa pitchers allowed eight walks, the pitchers also persevered and found a way to get a win.
Starter Ty Langenberg didn’t have his best stuff, but still only allowed one run over the first four innings.
Reliever Ben Beutel also squashed a potential rally for Central Michigan in the seventh when he entered the game with two runners on base and no outs. Beutel then recorded two strikeouts and a ground out to protect a 2-1 lead.
“It was just kind of go in and get the job done,” said Beutel, a redshirt senior from Davenport. “Put up a zero.”
Central Michigan scored one run in the top of the eighth to even the score at 2-2.
But that also set the stage for Petersen in the bottom half of the frame and the Huxley native came through in the clutch, thanks to Heller’s advice about staying calm.
“When he chased a breaking ball at 56 feet I was thinking the game might be going a little bit fast for him,” Heller said. “I tried to slow him down a little bit and told him to use his deep breaths, a 15-second funnel that we use, and step in there and give us a good at bat.”
Petersen and sophomore first baseman Peyton Williams led Iowa with two hits apiece.
The 6-foot-5, 255-pound Williams belted a solo home run, his fifth of the season, to give Iowa a 2-1 lead in the third inning.
B8 | SAM. PETERSEN.
— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) March 27, 2022