IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa baseball team dropped the series finale to 30th-ranked Nebraska, 3-2, on Easter Sunday at Duane Banks Field. Two unearned Husker runs in the top of the seventh came back to haunt the Hawkeyes in a one-run game.
"It's disappointing, we had an opportunity to make a big statement," said Iowa head coach Rick Heller. "It's still a good weekend, but not getting the sweep when it's right there at your fingertips hurts a little bit and it should."
The Hawkeyes walk away from the weekend with their fourth straight Big Ten series win and sit at 23-15 overall, 9-6 in Big Ten play. Iowa is fourth in the Big Ten standings.
Junior Grant Judkins hurled another seven-inning start where he allowed three runs (one earned) on three hits and no walks. It was Judkins' first start where he issued no free passes.
The right-hander from Pella, Iowa, was perfect through three innings with three of his four strikeouts. In the fourth inning, however, Judkins made one of his few mistakes, allowing a solo home run to Spencer Schwellenbach to put Nebraska on top 1-0 halfway through four.
Iowa's offense fell behind 3-0 halfway through seven innings. In the top of the seventh, Nebraska's leadoff man reached on an infield pop fly that Judkins couldn't haul in. On a potential inning-ending double play to senior Mitchell Boe, the second baseman rushed his throw and it ended up in left field allowing two Huskers to score.
Iowa rallied in the final three frames, headlined by Connor McCaffery's first career home run on a solo shot to left field in the seventh inning. The Hawkeyes tacked on another run in the eighth on an RBI-single from sophomore Izaya Fullard.
Following Fullard's cue shot, the Hawkeyes left two runners on base in the eighth and went down in order in the ninth inning. McCaffery was robbed of extra bases on a diving play by Nebraska's center fielder to end a possible ninth-inning rally.
QUOTING HEAD COACH RICK HELLER
"With the wind blowing out the way it was on a warm day, it certainly wasn't what anybody had expected would happen. We were off the barrel all day long and (Reece) Eddins did a nice job. Grant (Judkins) basically made one bad pitch and hung a breaking ball to give up the home run.
"We had a nice day with the free bases, but both of them happened in the inning we gave up two runs and that was disappointing to lose it that way. It's probably a good chance we win 2-1 if that doesn't happen. We let one slip away.
"We competed hard this weekend. Getting the series (win) this weekend was important. I'm not going to let it ruin the fact we have improved and are continuing to get better. We need to take it into the midweek with Milwaukee and then on the road to Ohio State next weekend."
The Hawkeyes return to action Tuesday, hosting Milwaukee at 6:05 p.m. (CT) at Duane Banks Field.