Midweek game gives Hawkeye baseball a boost


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Iowa baseball topped Northern Illinois on Wednesday evening in a close, low-scoring game that went back and forth.

The win pushes Iowa to 15-20 overall, 5-8 at home, and the Huskies fell to 16-22. In a mostly defensive game, both offenses saw few opportunities. Iowa accumulated only 4 hits — good enough to seal the deal in a 3-2 win.

All three of Iowa’s runs came from walked batters.

“I thought the pitchers did an outstanding job, and it started with Calvin [Mathews],” Iowa baseball coach Jack Dahm said. “I think he was attacking the zone, no walks, mixed in his breaking ball, and he had a couple of two-strike counts that got away from him, but other than that, I think he did a very good job. It was good to see.”

The game was scoreless for the first three innings; Northern Illinois broke the shutout in the top of the fourth inning with a long double by Micah McCulloch.

The Hawkeyes then responded with a sacrifice fly by sophomore Jake Mangler that brought in Taylor Kaufman to even the score by bringing in teammate Taylor Kaufman. Kaufman worked his way around by reaching on a walk, stealing second, then advancing to third on a groundout from catcher Keith Brand.

“We never let go. There was never a point in the game where we thought we were going to lose the game,” Kaufman said. “We didn’t necessarily get the runs in the most efficient ways, but we scraped them together when we needed to, and that’s what good ball clubs do.”

Pitcher Calvin Mathews pitched a solid five innings, allowing just 1 run from the three batters to reach base. The freshman struck out 3 of the18 batters he faced.

The Huskies regained the lead in the sixth inning because of a throwing error by relief pitcher Andrew Hedrick. Hedrick struggled in just his fifth appearance of the season to the tune of 26 pitches in a single inning.

Iowa responded again by taking advantage of a 2-run error by the Huskie defense to take the lead for good, plating Kaufman for the second time and designated hitter Trevor Kenyon.

The Hawkeyes did not relinquish their lead, holding Northern Illinois scoreless for the final three innings.

Both teams sent many pitchers to the mound — 11 different hurlers took the mound between the two squads, five from Iowa.

“You get a little nervous when you throw in that many guys, because if one guy has a bad outing, it can cost us the game,” Dahm said. “I thought all the guys did a good job today. We have to have the guys ready for this weekend, so you can’t use up a guy in the midweek now.”

Center fielder Eric Toole, who collected 2 of Iowa’s 4 hits on the night, said, “This gives us momentum to get Minnesota, who’s up there in the Big Ten standings. We obviously have to do a lot of work to put us in the position to make the tournament, but I think this will get us going on a roll.”

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