Omaha – It was an opening day of upsets in the Big Ten baseball tournament.
None bigger than in the third game when Iowa, the No. 8 seed, beat the Gophers 8-2 on Wednesday at TD Ameritrade Park.
Minnesota, as the regular-season champion, was the top seed in the double-elimination tournament.
Earlier, No. 3 seed Indiana lost to No. 6 Maryland 5-3 and No. 2 Nebraska fell to No. 7 Michigan State 5-1.
Minnesota plays No. 5 seed Michigan, which lost to Ohio State, at 1 p.m. today.
On the mound, the Gophers started Matt Fiedler, the conference MVP who was 7-2 overall, 4-0 in Big Ten games. He lasted only 2 ⅓ innings, giving up five runs on eight hits, including a triple and double, and two walks.
“We gave up five runs in the first two innings,” Gophers coach John Anderson said. “You get into the tournament here, it’s all about starting pitching, getting quality starting pitching, especially, gets you out of the gate pretty quickly well.
“Compliments to Iowa. I thought they played extremely well in all phases of the game. Their pitchers executed pitches, multiple pitches, off-speed and fastball location was outstanding.
‘‘They put the ball in play. They were very aggressive early in the count, they put the ball in play and they found places where we couldn’t catch it.”
Trailing 5-0, the Gophers (34-19) got a two-run homer in the third from Connor Schaefbauer. One batter before him, though, Iowa right fielder Robert Neustrom made a diving catch on Dan Motl’s sinking ball and threw behind a runner at second base trying to get back, for a double play.
“That kind of killed our inning,” Anderson said.
In the fifth, the Hawkeyes (28-25) had their second three-run inning, scoring on a double, a sacrifice fly and a single, to take an 8-2 lead.
The No. 1 and 3 Iowa hitters especially hurt the Gophers. Tyler Peyton was 4-for-6 with an RBI and two runs scored. Joel Booker was 5-for-5, all singles, tying a tournament record for hits in a single game.
Iowa had 18 hits total, and its first seven hitters all got on base at least twice via hits or walks.
Iowa left 14 runners on base, Minnesota seven.
“They just kept hitting, so they outplayed us today and they found some holes,” Schaefbauer said.
In seven innings, the Hawkeyes’ C.J. Eldred (3-8) gave up only two runs, six hits and struck out five. Nick Allgeyer pitched the final two innings. He didn’t give up a hit and struck out four.
Minnesota came into the game hitting .328, the nation’s third-best team average.
The Gophers were 2-1 against Iowa in their conference-opening series at Siebert Field the first weekend in April.
Iowa, which needed a strong conference finish to reach Omaha, is 6-1 in its past seven games.