By Pete Ruden
Iowa baseball’s postseason hot streak continued June 2 as the Hawkeyes took down regional 1-seed Houston, 6-3, in the opening game in Houston.
After picking up its first Big Ten Tournament title in school history, the team maintained its momentum to overpower Houston’s Trey Cumbie, who was named a second-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball, as well as the AAC Co-Pitcher of the Year.
He came into the game with a 10-1 record and 1.88 ERA, but Iowa mustered 10 hits and ripped off 4 runs against him, the most he had given up in his past five starts.
Just as he has before, Mitchell Boe came up with a clutch performance. The sophomore second baseman knocked in 2 runs on the biggest stage Iowa has played on all season.
In addition to Boe’s RBIs, Chris Whelan, Robert Neustrom, Grant Judkins, and Ben Norman all plated runners to round out Iowa’s scoring.
On the other side, the Hawkeyes couldn’t have asked for much more from the pitching.
Ryan Erickson had a solid outing, allowing just 2 earned runs on 4 hits in 5 innings of work.
Kyle Shimp and Josh Martsching finished the job from there; the duo allowed just 2 hits in the final four innings and 0 runs.
“Ryan gave us a quality start,” head coach Rick Heller said in a release. “He was working from behind the count for a lot of the day, but he found ways to make pitches when he needed to get out of innings. Kyle bridged it for us, and Josh was outstanding to close the game out.”
Aside from individual contributions, it was an all-around wacky game. From web gems to simple rules, the game contained a number of game-changing moments.
One of the biggest came in the sixth when Houston’s Lael Lockhart hit a ball into the gap that appeared to be an RBI-double that would tie the game at 4.
However, the Hawkeyes caught a break when they appealed and umpires determined that Lockhart hadn’t touched first base en route to second, taking the run away and ending the inning.
“It’s part of our routine,” Heller said in the release. “On the first days of relays in the fall, the first baseman’s job is to make sure the runner touches first before he heads to second base. It was a savvy play by Jake [Adams].”
It was a monumental win in a historic Hawkeye season. With a win under their belt in regional action, the Hawkeyes will have ace Nick Gallagher on the mound when they face No. 3 seed Texas A&M at 7:04 p.m. on June 3.
A win would move Iowa to the regional final, and given how hot the team has been combined with Gallagher’s talent, it’s an exciting possibility for Hawkeye fans across the state.
“It makes you feel good having Gallagher; hopefully, the extra day of rest helps him out,” Heller said in a release. “He needs to go out and compete. Hopefully, he has his good stuff and puts us in a good spot.”