Hawkeyes Take Weekend Series from No. 30 Nebraska

April 21, 2019

Written by Rob Howe

Iowa Players Postgame Press Conference

Rick Heller Postgame Press Conference

IOWA CITY, Iowa – This one hurt. Despite winning the weekend series against a ranked Nebraska team, the Hawkeyes were thinking about what might have been Sunday afternoon here at Banks Field.

The 3-2 Easter day loss weighed heavily on them. They knew a tighter-played game could have resulted in a sweep.

They talked about the significance of winning two of three games against a Husker team that came to town in first place, but it might take a day or two for the sting to go away from this one.

A pair of Iowa errors in the seventh led to two unearned runs that provided the difference for Nebraska.

“It’s disappointing. We had an opportunity to really make a big statement. It’s still a good weekend, but not getting the sweep when it’s right there at your fingertips hurts a little bit. And it should,” Hawkeye coach Rick Heller said.

Despite the difficult ending, Iowa showed it belonged in the conversation as one of the best teams in the Big Ten. It’s continually proved that since being swept in its first conference series by Indiana. It’s now won 9 of its last 12 league contests.

“It’s a positive weekend,” second baseman Mitchell Boe said. “It sucks losing that last one but we’ve got to look at the positives.

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“We’re ready to take on anyone. They’re a good team that beat some really good competition. We can hang with the best of them.”

Boe was disappointed in himself for a miscue in the seventh. His committed an error in trying to turn a double play, which would have been difficult to pull off. In hindsight, he admitted that he should have taken the sure out.

Starting pitcher Grant Judkins kick started that rally for Nebraska when he missed a popup.

“I just misplayed it. I didn’t play the wind properly,” he said. “I just missed it. It’s a little disappointing, but it happens.”

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In most of those circumstances, a coach would prefer an infielder call off Judkins. But with him being a position players on days when he’s not pitching, Heller wanted his junior taking charge on the popup.

The two unearned runs in the top of the seventh staked the Huskers to a 3-0 lead. Freshman right fielder Connor McCaffery blasted a solo, opposite field homer in the bottom of the frame to cut the home team’s deficit to two.

“Off the bat, I knew I barreled it, but I wasn’t sure (it was going out). I knew the wind was blowing out hard and I thought it had a chance,” he said.

Trace Hoffman set Nebraska down in the top of the eighth. The Hawkeyes then mounted a rally in their half of the inning.

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First baseman Izaya Fulled delivered an RBI single cutting the Husker lead to 3-2. Iowa had runners on first and second with one out. Five-hole hitter Ben Norman hit into a fielder’s choice and Tanner Wetrich grounded out to third to end the inning, however.

Grant Leonard retired Nebraska in the top of the ninth, striking out a pair. After Zeb Adreon went down on strikes, McCaffery drove a ball to right center. It looked headed for extra bases before center fielder Joe Acker came up with a diving catch. Pinch hitter Trenton Wallace then grounded out to shortstop to end the contest.

Errors and missed opportunities kept the Hawkeyes from sweeping.

You can read about Iowa winning the weekend’s first two games HERE.

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