By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – There is pressure, prestige and expectations with being the Friday starting pitcher for the Iowa baseball team and junior Nick Allgeyer continues to excel in that important role.
The southpaw from St. Louis scattered five hits and had eight strikeouts over seven innings as Iowa snapped Michigan’s 20-game winning streak with a 4-2 victory before an announced attendance of 1,632 at Banks Field.
“It’s definitely an honor and it’s something that you always come in here trying to get,” Allgeyer said of being the Friday starter. “And when you get it, you’ve got a big bullseye on your back and you’ve got to produce. And that’s one thing I try to do is go in there and give the team a chance to win.”
Michigan actually had the bullseye on its back because of its lengthy winning streak. Allgeyer said he was motivated to end the streak, but he didn’t change his approach to the game.
“A team like that gets a lot of hype, but at the end of the day, it’s just another start,” Allgeyer said. “I just want to go out there and give the team a chance to win.”
Iowa improved to 8-6 in the Big Ten and 25-13 overall, while Michigan fell to 11-1 and 24-12. The second game of the three-game series will start at 2:05 p.m. on Saturday at Banks Field.
“If you’re going to have a big year and compete for championships and go to postseason, you have to have a guy like that and Nick has been solid all season, and I think he just keeps getting better each time out,” said Iowa coach Rick Heller. “He’s a warrior and he’s battler and he goes out there every Friday and gives you a chance.
“He was really good tonight.”
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Allgeyer has relied on guts, determination and good old-fashioned hard work to reach this point. He also had to overcome Tommy John surgery last year.
“Basically, I have the same routine every week, get your work in each day,” said Allgeyer, who improved to 5-3 on the season with Friday’s win. “My easiest day is Friday night. Every other day is hard work trying to get ready for the next start.”
Iowa scored one run in the bottom of the third inning and three in the fourth, and that proved to be enough for Allgeyer and for reliever Zach Daniels, who pitched the final two innings to earn his fourth save of the season.
Left fielder Tanner Wetrich and first baseman Matt Hoeg both had two hits and each drove in one run to lead the offense.
Wetrich praised Allgeyer for doing what the Friday starter is supposed to do on the mound.
“That was an outstanding start,” Wetrich said. “If you know your pitcher is going to be like that, there’s not a night where you’re probably going to get beat. And tonight, he showed why he’s our Friday night guy. That’s what he does.”
Iowa had the advantage of never trailing in Friday’s game, thanks largely to Allgeyer’s performance on the mound.
“It was pretty important, when you get on top you feel you have the momentum going forward,” Wetrich said. “And you don’t really ever feel like they’re pressuring you.”
Ending Michigan’s winning streak was also important for lots of reasons. The Iowa players had heard so much about the streak in the days leading up to Friday’s game.
“We’ve heard all week long, twenty games, twenty games,” Wetrich said. “We knew coming in that we just wanted to end that streak and the focus was definitely there tonight.”