Iowa defeats North Carolina 6-5 in 13 innings to avoid elimination
Michael Seegers triple drives in winning run
By Pat Harty
The Iowa baseball team has survived to play at least one more game, and it’ll start in just a few hours on Sunday.
After blowing a three-run lead and seeing its bullpen struggle yet again in the eighth inning, Iowa bounced back to defeat North Carolina 6-5 in 13 innings in an NCAA regional elimination game on Sunday in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Iowa shortstop Michael Seegers hit a triple to the left-centerfield gap in the top of the 13th inning that drove in redshirt freshman pinch runner Coy Sarsfield with what proved to be the winning run.
Sarsfield was running for freshman Blake Guerin who had reached base on a single as a pinch-hitter.
HAWKS BACK ON TOP!!!
— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) June 4, 2023
Will Christopherson was solid in extended relief, his performance capped by going three up and three down in the 13th.
Iowa improved to 44-15 overall and now advances to face top seed and regional host Indiana State at 5 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
The 44 wins ties the Iowa program record for most wins in a season, which was previously set in 1981.
Should the Hawkeyes defeat Indiana State on Sunday, the same two teams would meet again on Monday with a trip to the Super Regional on the line.
Indiana State defeated Iowa 7-4 in the second round on Saturday. The Sycamores scored five runs in the eighth against Iowa’s bullpen to take the lead.
In Sunday’s game against North Carolina, Iowa was leading 5-2 in the eighth inning when the Tar Heels rallied, scoring two runs in the eighth and one in the ninth on a solo home run to force extra innings with the score even at 5.
It took until the 13th inning for a winner to emerge, and Iowa now faces the daunting task of having to defeat Indiana State twice to advance.
North Carolina now heads home after losing two games to Iowa in the regional, the first by a 5-4 score this past Friday.
Iowa fell behind 2-0 against North Carolina in the first game on Sunday as Ty Langenberg gave up a two-run homer in the bottom of the second.
That was one of the few mistakes that Langenberg made, however, as the junior would go on to pitch into the eighth inning while scattering seven hits and recording six strikeouts.
After seeing his bullpen struggle in each of the first two games of the regional, Iowa coach Rick Heller stuck with Langenberg for two batters in the eighth.
Heller finally turned to his bullpen after Langenberg gave up back-to-back singles to the first two batters he faced in the eighth.
Junior Jack Whitlock then struck out the first two batters he faced and was close to getting out of the eighth unscathed until North Carolina belted a two-run double, cutting Iowa’s lead to 5-4 with two outs.
Whitlock got the next batter to fly out in foul territory to end the inning.
North Carolina was down to its final three outs and trailing 5-4, but Whitlock couldn’t close the game as Mac Horvath hit a blast over the left-field fence to even the score at 5-5.
Iowa’s three starting pitchers have all pitched well in the regional, but now it gets tricky as the game start to mount over a short period of time.
Langenberg worked out of a bases loaded, one-out jam in the bottom of the first as he recorded a strikeout and a fly out to left to end the threat.
He was struck by a line drive on the elbow of his non-throwing arm in the first inning and needed some time to recover from the pain.
He then walked a batter to load the bases before getting back-to-back outs to end the first.
Iowa stranded two runners in the top of the second, and then Langenberg gave up a two-run homer in the bottom of the frame as the Tar Heels took an early 2-0 lead.
Langenberg struck out the first two batters he faced in the second, but then he walked a batter and that came back to haunt him as North Carolina leadoff batter Casey Cook smacked a two-run homer.
Iowa cut the deficit in half in the third as Seegers scored on a sacrifice fly to right field by Raider Tello.
The Hawkeyes then took a 4-2 lead on Brennen Dorighi’s three-run home run in the fifth.
It was Dorighi’s third hit of the game.
The addition of Dorighi has been a big part of Iowa’s success this season.
He came to Iowa as a graduate transfer after having played four seasons for Wofford.
Dorighi made a strong first impression as his teammates voted him a team captain after he had spent just one semester in the program.
His leadership, and his bat, have since played a big role in Iowa’s success this season.
And it’s the same with Seegers, who Rick Heller believes is one of the best, if not the best, defensive shortstop in college baseball.
But it was Seegers’ bat that had the biggest impact in Sunday’s win over North Carolina.
Iowa’s pitching depth will now be tested big time as it barely has two hours before facing the top seed in the regional on its home field.
Iowa played its 16th straight game without top hitter Keaton Anthony, and without pitcher Jacob Henderson and catchers Ben Tallman and Gehrig Christensen as they are being withheld from games as an investigation into sports wagering is conducted.
𝐇𝐚𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐭. 𝐁𝐚𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐭.
— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) June 4, 2023