Iowa baseball falls late, drops series to Northwestern

The Hawkeyes gave up a walk-off home run to the Wildcats, giving Northwestern the series victory.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa center fielder Ben Norman runs to third during a baseball game between Iowa and Minnesota at Duane Banks Field on Sunday, April 11, 2021. The Hawkeyes defeated the Gophers 18-0.

Isaac Goffin, Sports Reporter

EVANSTON, Ill. — Iowa baseball dropped its second weekend series in a row Sunday, as it lost in walk-off fashion to Northwestern in Evanston, 8-6.

With the score tied at six in the bottom of the ninth inning, Northwestern’s Shawn Goosenberg played heroics for the Wildcats Sunday. His two-run home run appeared to be foul as it sailed down the left field line, but it hit the foul pole into fair territory, giving Northwestern the late victory.

Iowa’s Drew Irvine came on to the mound in relief in the sixth inning and kept the Wildcats at six runs until the final frame of the contest.  But as the top of the Wildcat order came around for Irvine, he issued a walk and the game-winning home run.

“[He] threw them a slider and unfortunately for us, the wind shifted,” head coach Rick Heller said. “The wind had shifted a couple innings prior. Had it not, [the home run ball] would have been a foul ball, but unfortunately it had brought it back and it hit the pole.”

With the loss, the Hawkeyes are now 23-18 on the season, sitting at fifth place in the Big Ten.

The Hawkeyes fell behind early in Sunday’s game, as Iowa starting pitcher Duncan Davitt gave up two home runs in the first inning — a solo shot to Goosenberg and a two-run home run to Wildcat catcher Michael Trautwein.

The home run trend continued in the top of the second inning for the Wildcats, as Northwestern outfielder Leo Kaplan hit another solo home run.

Hawkeye reliever Will Semb replaced Davitt after he pitched 1.2 innings. Davitt ended his day on the mound with four hits and four earned runs, notching two strikeouts.

Semb gave up two runs in his 3.1 innings of work, as he pitched a two-run home run to Wildcat catcher Trautwein in the fifth frame.

RELATED: Iowa baseball falls late to Northwestern

Offensively, the Hawkeyes got on the board for the first time in the fourth inning. Iowa put a rally together for three runs, with outfielder Ben Norman capping off the inning with an RBI double to right field.

Iowa added two more runs in the sixth, scoring on a balk by Northwestern and another RBI double from Norman.

Hawkeye catcher Austin Martin tied the game in the seventh when he hit an RBI single off the pitcher, scoring first baseman Peyton Williams.

Throughout the game, Iowa’s three pitchers issued three walks and one intentional walk. Northwestern used seven pitchers in nine innings and put Hawkeyes on base without a hit a total of nine times — six walks and three hit by pitches.

“We only gave up one free base the whole day,” Heller said. “I mean that’s pretty impressive. But we also had so many opportunities offensively. [We] had a bunch of free bases. We didn’t have anybody step up and get that big hit to break the game open. Bad trend in the first inning, bases loaded, guy was kind of losing it, let him off the hook with a bad at bat, and that was just kind of the story of the day.”

Heller said the Hawkeyes fought back after being down early, but the comeback effort fell short against one of the best offensive teams in the Big Ten. Nebraska ranks fifth in the Big Ten with a .264 team batting average.

Iowa will finish the regular season next weekend against Michigan State in East Lansing, Michigan, and the Hawkeyes hope to find offensive power before they take on the Spartans.

“If we don’t swing the bats any better than we did this weekend, then it’s going to be just like this,” Heller said about the upcoming series. “I mean, it’ll be a dogfight on the road. It’s tough when they have the last at bat. So, hopefully we can get some things figured out this week and go in and finish the series with a really good weekend, everything’s clicking at the same time.”

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