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Huskers fall to Hawkeyes

Huskers fall to Hawkeyes
Courtesy/NU Media Relations

Lincoln – The Nebraska baseball team (20-12-1, 4-2-1 Big Ten) lost for just the second time in its last 13 games on Friday night, as the Iowa Hawkeyes (21-11, 4-3 Big Ten) took the series opener, 7-6, in 10 innings. The victory was the Hawkeyes’ fifth straight over the Huskers.

In the fourth, fifth and sixth innings the teams combined for nine runs, but then each went scoreless in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. Iowa scored the go-ahead run on a two-out single in the top of the 10th and then Josh Martsching finished off a 2.1-inning scoreless relief appearance to earn his first win of the season.

Nebraska had the tying run on base in the bottom of the 10th when Martsching walked Scott Schreiber with two outs, but then came back and struck out Ben Miller to end the game.

Nebraska was unable to overcome three Hawkeye home runs on the night, the first three-home run game by a Husker opponent this season. Nebraska also lost for just the third time this year when recording at least 10 hits.

Junior Luis Alvarado led all players with four hits on the night, his first career four-hit game, while Iowa’s Jake Adams went 3-for-5 with a home run.

On a night that featured two of the Big Ten’s top starting pitchers, neither Nebraska’s Jake Hohensee or Iowa’s Nick Gallagher factored into the decision.

After allowing one run in a career-high 8.1 innings last week against Maryland, junior Jake Hohensee was tagged for six runs on eight hits, which both matched career highs. All six runs came via the home run. The last Husker pitcher to give up three home runs in a game was Christian DeLeon against Indiana in 2013.

Iowa starter Nick Gallagher, who hadn’t given up a run in his last three starts, lasted a season-low 3.1 innings and allowed a career-high tying five runs (three earned). The Iowa City, Iowa, native allowed just four hits, but gave up a career-high five walks, including four in the fourth inning. Gallagher had gone at least 5.0 innings in each of his first seven starts of the year, including 7.0 innings or more five times.

Hohensee started the game by retiring the first two Hawkeyes he faced before Adams lined the first pitch he saw into the left-field berm for a solo home run, his 14th of the season. The junior first baseman entered the day tied for sixth in the country with 13 home runs. Hohensee responded with a strikeout, ending the top of the first with Iowa leading 1-0. The Huskers had runners on the corners with one down in the bottom of the first, but Gallagher escaped the jam with a strikeout and a groundout.

Hohensee stranded a runner at third base to end the top of the second and then the NU offense evened the game at 1-1. Alvarado led off with his eighth double of the season, setting a new career high for doubles in a season. With Luke Roskam at the plate, Alvarado moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch from Gallagher, his second of the game. With the bases empty, Gallagher later gave up a single to Jesse Wilkening, but nothing else.

The tie didn’t last long, as the Hawkeyes notched their second homer of the game in the top of the third. No. 9 hitter Mitchell Boe led off with a single and Chris Whelan followed with a two-run shot, his second home or the season. Hohensee responded with three straight outs, but the Hawkeyes had retaken the lead, 3-1.

Miller led off the fourth with a single, extending his hitting streak to 11 games, and the Huskers went on to score four runs in the frame. After the single Gallagher got a fly out and then induced a potential inning-ending double play ball, but shortstop Mason McCoy was unable to catch the throw to second base and both runners were safe. Following the error, Gallagher was unable to right the ship, as he walked four straight batters which plated the tying and go ahead runs. With the bases full and one down, the Hawkeyes brought in right hander Zach Daniels. The sophomore got a shallow fly out, but then gave up a RBI single to Schreiber that put the Huskers ahead 5-3. Miller came up for the second time in the inning and was retired on a ground ball to end the fifth.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Nebraska scored four runs on two hits, four walks and an Iowa error.

Hohensee stranded a two-out single in the top of the fifth and then the Huskers added to their lead. Alvarado led off with a single and later scored on Jake Schleppenbach’s fifth double of the season. The Huskers would load the bases with one out for the second straight inning following a walk to Mojo Hagge, but Daniels struck out Angelo Altavilla and got a deep fly out of the bat of Jake Meyers to escape a major damage.

After Daniels kept the Huskers from putting together a big inning in the bottom of the fifth, Iowa tied the game in the top of the sixth with their third home run of the game. Hohensee gave up back-to-back singles to start the inning and then Tyler Cropley sent the first pitch of his at bat into the left-center field berm, knotting the game at 6-6. Hohensee came back with a strikeout before Matt Hoeg singled and NU went to reliever Robbie Palkert. The sophomore kept the game tied, as he got a fly out, gave up a single and struck out McCoy to end the frame.

Chad Luensmann took the mound in the top of the eight and sat the Hawkeyes down in order. The Huskers then had the go-ahead run in scoring position in the bottom of the eighth when Miller and Alvarado recorded back-to-back singles. Iowa brought in Martsching and the senior struck out Roskam looking to keep the game tied, 6-6.

Luensmann retired his fourth and fifth straight Hawkeyes in the ninth before walking McCoy on four pitches. Adams then fought off four straight foul balls before singling on the ninth pitch of his at bat, putting the go-ahead run in scoring position. Robert Neustrom then hit a slow rolling grounder down the third base line that resulted in an infield single, loading the bases for Ben Norman. Luensmann dug in and left the bases full with an inning-ending fly out.

With the game still tied, 6-6, Martsching tossed a perfect bottom of the ninth to send the game into extra innings.

Cropley led off the top of the 10th and Luensmann hit him with the second pitch of the frame, putting the go-ahead run on base. The Hawkeyes then went station-to-station, moving Cropley to second with a sacrifice bunt and to third on a groundout. With two down, Boe lined a RBI single just over the glove of Altavilla at third base, driving in the eventual game-winning run.

The series continues Saturday evening, with game two set for 6:05 p.m.

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