Iowa City, Iowa – The Nebraska baseball team (13-9, 1-2 Big Ten) took an early 3-0 lead over the Iowa Hawkeyes (14-6, 2-1 Big Ten) on Sunday afternoon at Duane Banks Field, but was unable to hold on as the Hawkeyes took the rubber match of the three-game series with an 8-4 victory.
Austin Darby was a bright spot for the Huskers with a 3-for-3 day at the plate with three RBIs, but it wasn’t enough to overcome NU’s 2-3-4-5 hitters, who were a combined 0-for-13 on the afternoon. Five Hawkeye hitters notched a pair of hits, including Dan Potempa and Jake Mangler who each had three hits.
The game was tied 4-4 heading into the bottom of the eighth, when the Hawkeyes blew the game open with four runs. Freshman reliever Jake Hohensee sat the Hawkeyes down in order in the seventh, and started the eighth with a strikeout, but then gave up a pair of singles and a walk to load the bases. Jeff Chesnut came in and tried to get a double play, but instead gave up a single that put the Hawkeyes back in front, 5-4. Zach Hirsch took the mound and gave up a single and a double that scored three runs. The lefty finally put an end to the inning with a pair of strikeouts, but not before Iowa took a 8-4 lead on five hits in the inning.
The Huskers got a runner on in the top of the ninth, but were unable to get anything else off closer Nick Hibbing.
Just like the first two games of the weekend, the Huskers took the game’s first lead with a three-run second inning. Ben Miller plated Ryan Boldt, who led off the inning with a walk, with a one-out single, while Darby delivered with two outs by dropping a two-RBI triple into left field, the Huskers 12th triple of the season. Iowa left fielder Taylor Kaufman nearly made a full-extension diving catch that would have robbed Darby, but Kaufman was unable to squeeze the ball in his mitt.
After NU starter Bummer stranded a pair of Hawkeye runners in each of the first two innings, Iowa was able to get on the board with a one-out RBI single off the bat of Potempa, who picked up his seventh hit of the series. Bummer quickly ended UI’s thoughts of a rally when he got Taylor Zeutenhorst to fly out and struck out Kris Goodman looking for the second time in the game.
Goodman got his revenge in the bottom of the fifth when he came to the plate with two down and the bases loaded, the Hawkeye right fielder snuck a groundball over the third-base bag that resulted in a two-RBI double that tied the game, 3-3. With the go-ahead run at third, Bummer got Kaufman to fly out to end the inning.
The Hawkeyes then took their first lead of the game, 4-3, the following inning with another two-out hit, as Mangler came through with a single off of reliever Bob Greco that scored Kenyon, who reach earlier in the inning with a leadoff single.
Iowa’s lead didn’t last long, as the Huskers converted a leadoff walk into a run to knot the score at 4-4. Miller worked the leadoff free pass and was replaced on the base paths by Ty Kildow, who coasted into second base on a wild pitch by Peyton. Taylor Fish stepped in and did his job by bouncing a groundball to the right side of the infield that allowed Kildow to move to third with one out. Iowa brought Blake Hickman out of the bullpen to face Darby, who was for 3-for-3 coming into the at-bat, and retired Darby with a shallow fly out, but Kildow showed off his blazing speed by tagging up on play and beating a thrown to the plate by Kaufman from left field.
Nebraska’s five-game road trip continues on Tuesday night in Wichita, Kan., when the Huskers and the Wichita State Shockers meet at 6:30 p.m. The Huskers then head to Manhattan, Kan., for a 6:30 meeting with the Kansas State Wildcats on Wednesday, March 26. NU’s game at Kansas State will be carried live on FSN Kansas City.