By Adam Hensley
The May 17 series opener at Banks Field against Penn State turned out to be a pitchers’ duel, and Iowa snagged a 3-1 win over the Nittany Lions and clinched a Big Ten Tournament berth.
Nick Allgeyer, the Hawkeyes’ No. 1 arm, was dealing from the mound. During his 7-inning tenure, Allgeyer only gave up 4 hits while striking out 6 and holding the Nittany Lions scoreless.
Iowa jumped ahead for good in the bottom of the eighth inning. After Penn State pitcher Taylor Lehman walked Kyle Crowl, Ben Norman — who was 0-for-3 — rocked an RBI double down the left field line, scoring Crowl and putting the Hawkeyes up, 2-1.
“I was just trying to go up there and put a good swing on it,” Norman said. “I actually didn’t put a good swing on it, but it ended up finding a hole, which is what we needed.”
Norman scored two batters later when Chris Whelan knocked a single through a gap in right field, and Iowa led, 3-1.
Before the Hawkeyes’ eighth-inning heroics, offense proved to be hard to come by. It took the Hawkeyes six innings to score, but when they did, they broke a 0-0 deadlock.
With the bases loaded, Mitchell Boe worked out of an 0-2 count and battled back, forcing a 3-2 count. Lehman walked Iowa’s second baseman, scoring Matt Hoeg.
“It was a traditional Friday night pitchers’ duel on a Thursday night,” Iowa head coach Rick Heller said. “I was really impressed with [Bailey] Dees and how well he pitched.”
Penn State’s Dees looked sharp in his outing. The freshman pitched 5 innings, allowing 4 hits, holding Iowa scoreless and striking out 6.
Hitting was not Iowa’s strong suit for most of the game; the Hawkeyes managed to connect on only 6 hits against a Penn State club allowing an average of 9.3 hits per game (Iowa tallied just 1 hit going into the fifth inning).
Whelan had himself a day, but besides his efforts in the box, only three other Hawkeyes notched hits. Robert Neustrom finished 1-for-4, Tyler Cropley went 0-for-4, Austin Guzzo and Lorenzo Elion finished 0-for-2 each, and Hoeg finished 0-for-3.
Iowa can secure a series win a victory on May 18, when the two teams will collide again at 6:05 p.m. at Banks Field.