IOWA CITY — Matt Waldron turned in another dominant outing, but the Nebraska offense couldn’t rise up in clutch moments as Iowa walked off the Huskers 3-2 in the series opener Friday night.
No. 9 hitter Zeb Adreon’s two-out single sank NU after the Hawkeyes opened the inning with a hit to center and later stole second base. The visitors missed their own chance in the top of the ninth — a leadoff plunked batter was wiped out on a failed hit-and-run attempt — and ended 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position at Banks Field.
The league-leading Huskers (21-12, 10-3 Big Ten) squandered another quality start from Waldron in their third walk-off loss in league play. The senior right-hander from Omaha Westside lasted 7⅔ innings and a season-high 114 pitches, allowing eight hits while striking out six and walking none.
Waldron retired the first eight Hawkeyes of the game before Iowa responded with three consecutive hits that included a Chris Whelan RBI single in the third. Waldron turned back the next seven batters before Whelan doubled to start the sixth and came home on an Austin Martin infield hit that tied the game 2-2.
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“He’s put the work in. His stuff was still good at the very end,” NU coach Darin Erstad said of Waldron during his postgame radio interview. “These guys can hit some breaking balls very well, so we went more a fastball/change combo. Had a couple chances to score some runs and one inning we did. But other than that, we couldn’t get anything going.”
Iowa (22-14, 8-5) received six innings from ace Cole McDonald, who dodged damage time and again. He stranded two runners in the first and left the bases loaded in the fifth. NU plated a pair in the fourth to go ahead 2-1 on RBI singles from Mojo Hagge and Cam Chick.
Nebraska also left Jaxon Hallmark at second after a one-out walk and stolen base in the eighth. The Huskers are in a 13-for-75 (.173) slump with runners in scoring position over their last eight games.
The series resumes Saturday at 2:05 p.m. in a contest broadcast on the Big Ten Network. Iowa has won 11 of the last 14 games in the matchup of border rivals.