Iowa baseball doesn't miss opportunity for a Nebraska sweep
IOWA CITY — For as necessary as series victories are to Iowa baseball’s postseason push, attaching the sweep moniker to as many weekends as possible certainly makes a louder statement in several pivotal areas.
Not only does busting the brooms out ensure maximum ascension in the cluttered Big Ten standings, a Sunday triumph also means RPI progress. Iowa knows all too well how tight the walk is along the RPI tightrope is come May. After sweeping four of its six nonconference weekends, the Hawkeyes hadn’t had a perfect Big Ten series yet.
They do now.
The Iowa bats continued teeing off on Nebraska pitching, while Ty Langenberg delivered a clinic on how to hurdle early adversity on another day of less-than-stellar weather. That winning concoction propelled the Hawkeyes to a 6-1 victory and the program’s first Nebraska sweep since 2015.
"The plan all along is to be able to string together a bunch of games, regardless of who we were playing, where we played consistent baseball in all facets of the game," Iowa coach Rick Heller said. "This weekend, we did that."
With 10 points already chopped off Iowa’s RPI thanks to solid wins on Friday and Saturday, the Hawkeyes (29-10, 7-5 Big Ten Conference) had a chance to really turn this weekend into a resume-enhancing item. Approaching Sunday with an unsatisfied mentality was Iowa’s best opportunity to send the Huskers (21-14-1, 7-5) home with nothing.
Nebraska hadn’t delivered many jolts this series, but it did seven pitches in on a Brice Matthews solo home run to left that handed the Huskers their first lead of the weekend. Was this the start of another grueling Langenberg outing that often doesn’t make it past the fifth?
Not a chance. The Urbandale product climbed back on track quickly and tossed quality frames while his offense answered on the other end. Langenberg’s final product was just three hits and the one run surrendered over seven riveting innings, while adding nine strikeouts with only two walks. After Matthews’ blast Nebraska didn’t collect its next hit until one down in the sixth.
"It's something where I have to shrug it off," Langenberg said of the early homer. "I've learned over the last year or two that stuff will happen in the first inning. Things like that won't go my way, but I just know I have to come out the next inning and be better. And I did that."
The clutch start marked Langenberg’s longest outing of the season and matched the lengthiest of his career, tying his seven-inning start versus Purdue last May. Solidifying Sundays would go a long way in improving Iowa’s outlook down the stretch. Langenberg picked a pivotal time to deliver his most potent product.
Plenty of Iowa assistance arrived on the other end. A two-run triple from nine-hole catcher Cade Moss kicked off the offensive fireworks as part of a three-run second. Brennen Dorighi’s mammoth solo shot to right came with a quality cut and a quality stare — the biggest blow in the Hawkeyes’ three-run fifth.
Overall, a complete weekend that saw all elements of Iowa’s program thrive at their best. The Hawkeyes will need plenty more positive results in the coming weeks, but completing this sweep sends a strong message Iowa is ready to close the way it needs to.
"Just to come out here and make a statement, even the playing field across the Big Ten with these three wins. is huge for us," Dorighi said.
Dargan Southard is a sports trending reporter and covers Iowa athletics for the Des Moines Register and HawkCentral.com. Email him at email@example.com.