Iowa baseball delivers another offensive outburst in series-clinching win over Indiana

Dargan Southard
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY — Overcorrecting is this sport's specialty when something like Thursday's incredible baseball spectacle unfolds. After Indiana and Iowa combined for 46 runs and 42 hits in a series opener that defied all baseball logic, a return to earth was bound to happen in Friday's second game. 

Well, it happened for one team.

But the Hawkeyes clearly missed the message.

Iowa cut out the 11-run deficit part and went straight for the Indiana jugular, surging past the Hoosiers with a pair of big innings that paired nicely with more Dylan Nedved mound dominance. All of it wrapped up equaled a 12-0 Hawkeyes victory, which gives Iowa its sixth consecutive series victory to end the Big Ten regular season. A team trying to earn its first regional bid since 2017 is delivering its best product at the season's most crucial point. 

"They showed up focused and locked in," Iowa coach Rick Heller said.

Any worry about a 30-run hangover disappeared quickly. The Hawkeyes (32-17, 16-7 Big Ten Conference) again picked out the fourth inning to inflict significant damage, throwing up a four-spot that handed Iowa a 5-0 advantage. A two-run double from Sam Hojnar (3-for-4, 3 runs, 3 RBI) came with additional RBIs via Cade Moss and Michael Seegers (4-for-5, 4 RBI) — and the Iowa aluminum was off and running again.

That was just the beginning, though. Similar to Thursday, the Hawkeyes delivered another tack-on run masterpiece. Four more arrived in the fifth, with Keaton Anthony's solo homer to right serving as the emphatic blow. Indiana starter Jack Perkins and his upper-90s fastball was no match for an Iowa lineup currently cooking one through nine. 

“It was huge to keep them out of the game early," Seegers said, "and keep them down.” 

By the time Iowa finished its offensive damage, Indiana's only hope was that double-digit leads just simply aren't safe at Duane Banks Field. Well, not the case. The Hoosiers (25-29, 10-13) waved and whiffed at Nedved's arsenal all evening, failing to secure a hit until their 21st hitter of the game broke through with one out in the sixth. 

IfHeller had his way, Nedved would still be locking down the bullpen's backend as a trusted, high-end reliever. But Connor Schultz's recent struggles forced the head man's hand. Friday marked the second return to the weekend rotation for Nedved, who twirled six scoreless frames with four walks and six strikeouts in his first start since April 9.

"As soon as I get the ball in my hands, I'm going to be the same person — get outs and give my team the best chance to win," Nedved said. "So it doesn't change when I get the ball (whether starting or relieving)."    

Despite the questions that must be answered in high-leverage situations at the end of games, Nedved looks like a starter ready to rock next week in Omaha. His filthy slider paired with a solid fastball — and the mental capacity to change roles often — has allowed Iowa to make a substantial pitching shift this late in the season.                       

Ah, late in the season, when every result carries substantial weight no matter the situation. Iowa finds itself in a decent one entering the final day of the regular season, locked in a three-way tie that could have the Hawkeyes second, third or fourth. The RPI, currently at 62, continues to improve with each Indiana win. 

Friday's victory certainly wasn't as absurd as Thursday's. But it again revealed how dangerous this Hawkeyes team can be when all elements are clicking.  

"We put together a well-played game," Heller said, "and had a professional effort by the guys."

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.