116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — He's the unquestioned ace, the stopper, the Friday guy. The dude.
Trenton Wallace has been any and/or all of those things so far in Iowa's baseball season.
The junior southpaw threw seven beautiful innings Friday afternoon as the Hawkeyes won their home opener at Duane Banks Field, 3-0, over Nebraska. Make that seven more beautiful innings.
Wallace has allowed just two runs in his first three starts over 18 innings. He's giving his team a chance, and that's exactly what you need out of the unquestioned ace, stopper, Friday guy, dude.
'It's a complete team thing for us,' Wallace said. 'Our defense on Friday nights has been outstanding behind me, and I think that makes it so much easier to pitch.'
It makes it so much easier to play defense when your pitcher throws strikes, too, and that's what Wallace (2-0) did here. He actually walked the first hitter of the game on four pitches and hit the third guy, but pitched out of that potential trouble and settled in.
He got a great catch from center fielder Ben Norman at the wall in left-center with a man on and two outs in the fifth. He threw 104 pitches, allowed just two hits and struck out eight.
'He maintained his velo until the last pitch of the game,' said Iowa Coach Rick Heller. 'He ... had one of those starts where 20 years ago, he probably would have went back out in the eighth and ninth. In modern times, you don't really do much over 100 pitches anymore. He can throw all of his pitches for strikes. He has really cleaned up the efficiency on his fastball, and his breaking ball and changeup have really developed into plus pitches. So all of those things, then throw in the fact that he is a tremendous competitor is why he is having success.'
Iowa finally solved Nebraska starter Cade Povich in the sixth. Brendan Sher led off the inning with a home run to left, pinch hitter Brayden Frazier followed with a single and Norman lofted a two-run home run to right-center.
'I took the first pitch, a curveball, that I probably should have swung at,' Norman said. 'So in my head, it was like ‘All right, I can't miss this next one if it's there.' I got it pretty well, but I wasn't sure if it was gone off the bat.'
Trace Hoffman was spotless in two relief innings, as Iowa (4-5) inched closer to getting back to the break-even mark. The Hawkeyes host Nebraska (5-4) Saturday afternoon at 2:05 and Sunday afternoon at 1:05.
Indiana leads the Big Ten Conference with a 6-1 record, with Michigan 7-2. The season is nothing but conference games.
'We got off to a little slow start, and we're just clawing back, scratching to get back into the race,' Heller said. 'I feel like the guys are in a good place right now. We talked a lot tonight about expectations and expecting that to happen. We got to a point early where guys were hoping that would happen. That's what we've fought for for seven years, since I've been here. To bring expectation for that to happen here every night we play. We're getting closer to that.'
'I think we're right where we need to be,' Wallace said. 'Tonight showed how our team can be if we just trust ourselves and stay in the game and expect that from ourselves. I think our energy in the dugout was the best that it's been all year. The defense was amazing, and the bats came around.'
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