Friday night starter leads way for Iowa baseball in home-opener

Trenton Wallace had eight strikeouts in seven innings in Iowa’s 3-0 win over Nebraska.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa Pitcher Trenton Wallace pitches out of trouble during a baseball game between Iowa and Nebraska at Duane Banks Field on March 19, 2021. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cornhuskers 3-0.

Isaac Goffin, Assistant Sports Editor

It was looking bad for Friday night starter Trenton Wallace after he walked his first batter on four pitches and hit a batter later in the first inning during Iowa baseball’s home-opener against Nebraska.

But then like it has turned out all season, Wallace had another great game. He pitched seven innings and amassed eight strikeouts while giving up two hits in the Hawkeyes’ 3-0 victory.

The junior out of Rock Island, Illinois, now has 1.00 ERA with 26 strikeouts in 18 innings in the 2021 campaign. He got his second win of the season Friday.

“He’s so fit right now,” head coach Rick Heller said. “I mean if you watched he maintained his [velocity] until the last pitch just throwing… 104 pitches today. This was one of those starts where 20 years ago he probably would have gone back out there in the eighth and the ninth but in the modern times you really don’t do that much over 100 pitches. But he can throw all his pitches for strikes, he’s really cleaned up the efficiency on his fastball and his breaking ball and his changeup has really developed into a plus pitch so all those things and just throwing the fact that he is a tremendous competitor that’s why he’s having success.”

Wallace explained how he had the stamina to pitch the longes he’s had this season.

“Just trusting the defense,” Wallace said. “Being able to put four pitches in the zone I know I was erratic with the fastball early on. Trusting the secondary stuff and being able to throw the fastball with more conviction later in the game and I think trusting the defense and forcing the Nebraska hitters to put the ball in play was key for me for getting deep into the game.”

It was in the fifth inning the defense gave Iowa the momentum it needed to propel forward.

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With the Cornhuskers having a runner on first base with two outs, junior Spencer Schwellenbach hit a fly ball deep in center field that looked like it was going to be an extra base hit that could give the Cornhuskers the advantage.

But senior center fielder Ben Norman wasn’t going to let that happen as he made a fantastic catch against the wall to end the inning.

“We focus a lot on our defense,” Norman said. “We know how important it is to be solid on defense. You got to be really solid on defense to win close games like this. I think that shows that all our hard work is continuing to pay off but I mean we still got to keep grinding on defense and still playing clean so we can keep winning games.”

The Hawkeyes had zero errors in the game.

In the sixth inning, sophomore left fielder Brendan Sher hit a home run off the scoreboard in left field, which was soon followed by a two-run homerun by Norman into right field.

Senior Trace Hoffman pitched the final two innings for the Hawkeyes and earned his first save of the season.

The first hit of the game didn’t occur until the third inning when Nebraska got a single. Yet, the Cornhuskers never got a runner past second base throughout the game.

Iowa struggled as well to get the bats going but the Hawkeyes also got their first hit in the third inning.

The type of game the Hawkeyes played is what they want to continue having for the rest of the season. Iowa (4-5) will have another chance against Nebraska Saturday at 2:05 p.m. in the second game of the three-game series.

“I think we’re right where we need to be,” Wallace said. “Tonight, we showed the way that our team can be if we trust ourselves and stay in the game and expect that from ourselves. I think the energy in the dugout was the best it’s been all year. The defense was amazing, and then the bats came around and as long as we stay in the game with our hitters and trust our defense as pitchers, I think we’re one of the top contenders in the league. It showed tonight that was our expectation for our team.”

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