Certain players have a flare for the dramatic. No matter the situation you either want the ball hit to them or you want them at the plate. Iowa outfielder Kyle Huckstorf is one of those dudes. Last year he had a 6 hit, 3 home run, 12 RBI game helping the Hawkeyes overcome an 11 run deficit to win 30-16. On Opening Day he added to his resume with a walk-off grand slam, lifting Iowa to a 6-2 win over Indiana State in 11 innings.
On paper this one figured to be a pitcher’s dual with both teams throwing their best. Ty Langenberg entered the season as the favorite to win Big Ten Pitcher of the Year, while Matt Jachec was named a pre-season All-American by the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. Both starters were solid but the relievers stole the show with a combined 11 scoreless innings.
Indiana State struck first with some two out magic in the top of the first. Randal Diaz walked and Luis Hernandez drove him in with an RBI double to give the Sycamores an early 1-0 lead. Iowa answered in the bottom of inning number two when Sam Petersen tied the game with a home run over the left field wall. Sam Hojnar then put the Hawkeyes in front later that innings with a double into the right-center gap, scoring Kyle Huckstorf.
Matt Jachec settled in nicely after that inning, retiring either of the final nine batters he faced. He ended up going 5.0 innings while allowing two runs on five hits, striking out five and walking none.
Indiana State tied the game back up in the fourth inning with back-to-back doubles from Luis Hernandez and Josue Urdaneta. Ty Langenberg went 5.0 innings in his first Friday night start after being the Hawkeyes Sunday starter last season. He allowed two runs on five hits, while striking out five and walking two.
Rick Heller called for the bullpen after Langenberg hit leadoff batter Luis Hernandez and allowed a double to Josue Urdaneta. Senior lefty Jared Simpson was called upon and boy did he deliver. Simpson escaped the jam and ended up posting 4.0 scoreless innings with seven strikeouts and just one hit allowed.
Indiana State reliever Connor Fenlong matched him pitch for pitch. Jachec and Fenlong held the Hawkeyes hitless in innings four through ten. The game went to extra innings and on came Will Christophersen for the Hawkeyes. He posted two scoreless innings, including strikeouts of Grant Magill, Keegan Watson and Seth Gergely in the 11th.
Iowa loaded the bases with a single by Raider Tello, a Keaton Anthony hit by pitch and an infield hit by Brennen Dorighi. That set up the moment for Kyle Huckstorf, who stepped to the plate. Huckstorf ambushed the first pitch he saw from Fenlong over the left field wall for a walkoff grand slam and an Opening Day victory for the Hawkeyes.