IOWA CITY, Iowa – A two-out, three-run home run in the eighth inning proved to be the difference as Ohio State dropped game one of a three-game set to Iowa, 7-5, Friday night in Iowa City.
With the loss, Ohio State drops to 26-20 overall, 9-10 in the Big Ten while Iowa improves to 22-25, also 9-10 in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes are in a four-way tie for fifth in the conference, two games behind Michigan, Purdue and Minnesota and one game behind fourth-place Northwestern.
Eric Best came on to relieve Jared Strayer with one down in the bottom of the ninth and recorded the second out of the inning before giving up a three-run home run to Iowa shortstop Zach Lee.
Ryan Dew led off the ninth with a home run to right-center to cut the lead to 7-5 and Hallberg followed with a single before Rupert struck out for the first out of the inning. DeLucia then walked and Engle hit a shot off the chest of the Iowa third baseman for an infield single to load the bases with one down. Zach Hurley then hit a lined shot at Lee who doubled DeLucia off second to end the game.
Hurley finished 3-for-5 with a pair of runs scored and an RBI. Dew and Cory Rupert also had three hits apiece for the Buckeyes. Strayer picked up the tough-luck loss, tossing a career-high 6.1 innings, giving up four hits and three each runs while striking out four.
The Hawkeyes jumped out to the early lead, using three walks, a double and a pair of two-out RBI singles by Mike Corbeil and Tyson Blaser to take a 3-0 lead after the first inning.
Ohio State loaded the bases with two down in the second on singles by Dew and Rupert and a walk to Tyler Engle but Hurley grounded out to first base on the first pitch of the at-bat to end the Buckeye threat.
After Iowa starter Jarred Hippen cruised through the first four innings, Ohio State cut the Hawkeye lead to 3-2, scoring a pair in the top of the fifth. After Engle struck out to lead off the inning, Hurley lined a shot to deep center off the glove of Kurtis Muller for a triple. Cory Kovanda then drove in Hurley with a sacrifice fly to right as the Buckeye left fielder barely beat the tag of Blaser at home plate. Dan Burkhart and Michael Stephens both followed with singles before Dew was hit by a pitch to load the bases with two down. Brad Hallberg then singled to left scoring Burkhart but Stephens was thrown out trying to score by Iowa left fielder Trevor Willis.
However, the Hawkeyes answered right back to push the lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the frame as Mike McQuillan scored on a one-out double to right-center by Phil Keppler.
The Buckeyes got the run back in the top of the sixth as Rupert singled to lead off the inning and scored on a sacrifice fly to deep right by Hurley.
Ohio State then rallied in the eighth but it appeared Iowa reliever Zach Robertson would get out of the jam after Brian DeLucia was thrown out at the plate for the second out of the inning after an error Lee but Hurley scored the tying run on a wild pitch with two down.
After Strayer struck out Keppler to lead off the inning, he followed with a walk and a hit batter before Best came in relief.
The Buckeyes and Hawkeyes will continue the three-game set at 1:05 p.m. Saturday at Duane Banks Field.
– Friday marked the eighth time in the last nine games that the opponent scored first against the Buckeyes.
– Cory Rupert earned his third start of the season in the DH spot and Brad Hallberg picked up his fourth consecutive start at third base.
– Rupert recorded his 14th multi-hit game of the season Friday.
– Rupert is now batting .500 (9-for-18) in his career vs. Iowa.
– Dan Burkhart extended his team-leading hitting streak to 11 games.
– Burkhart threw out is 21st potential base stealer in 47 chances this season (45 percent).
– Jared Strayer tossed 6.1 innings after throwing five in his previous two outings last Saturday and Wednesday. He had never thrown more than four innings in his career up until that point.
– Strayer has now given up just six earned runs in 22.2 innings pitched since returning from injury in late April.
– Zach Hurley has at least one RBI in five of the last six games.
– Ryan Dew recorded his 20th multi-hit game of the season and 59th of his career.
– Every Buckeye reached base safely against the Hawkeyes.
– The home run by Dew was his second in three games after not hitting one in his previous 18 games.