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Baseball takes two of three from Iowa in final Big Ten series

The Wildcats earn their first walk-off win and close conference play strong.

It took 43 games, but Northwestern has its first walk-off win.

In a season where the Wildcats (16-29, 6-18 B1G) have struggled to get the big hit, Jack Dunn came through with a two-out, two-run single to walk off Iowa (29-18, 10-9 B1G) Friday afternoon.

Dunn’s walk-off hit kicked off a solid final weekend of conference play for Northwestern, which took two of three from Iowa, a team that came into Evanston only 3.5 games behind Minnesota for the conference lead.

Quinn Lavelle turned in a solid start Friday afternoon, pitching into the seventh inning and allowing two earned runs while striking out five. He also tallied his first career hit, a double in the fifth, before he came around to score on an error to tie the game at one in the fifth.

Iowa took a 3-2 lead in the seventh inning, knocking Lavelle from the game and putting Northwestern on the ropes with nine outs left. However, the Wildcats had some fight in them.

Junior Ben Dickey launched his first career home run to tie the game at three in the seventh inning, before a wild pitch and a balk with the bases loaded gave Northwestern two runs and a 5-3 lead.

The lead wouldn’t hold, however, as Josh Levy got knocked around in the ninth inning and Iowa tied the game up at five. The Hawkeyes took the lead on a Matt Hoeg double in the tenth inning, preceding Dunn’s heroics.

The Wildcats carried their momentum into Saturday’s game— perhaps spurred on by the first annual Bark at the Park Day at Rocky Miller Park.

A two-run single from Connor Lind in the bottom of the first inning got the Wildcats going, and they didn’t look back. Sophomore Hank Christie got the nod on the mound, and the right-hander was sensational. Christie earned his third win of the season by tossing seven scoreless innings, scattering four hits and walking only two. He didn’t miss many bats, but induced 13 flyouts on a cold, windy day in Evanston.

Lind was the main producer for the Wildcat offense, going 3-for-4 with three RBIs.

On Sunday, Northwestern celebrated Mother’s Day, but couldn’t complete a three-game sweep of the Hawkeyes, falling 10-7.

Matt Gannon got the start and kept Northwestern in the game, allowing three runs in three-plus innings. The Wildcat offense was in gear early with a three-run third inning, but Iowa starter Jack Dreyer settled in and limited Northwestern to three runs in five innings.

Northwestern’s bullpen couldn’t hold up, though. Iowa added one run in the sixth, three in the seventh, and two in the eighth on the strength of two home runs to stretch its lead to 10-4.

A Jack Claeys ninth inning home run —his eighth of the season— cut the Hawkeye advantage to three, but a sweep was not in the cards for Northwestern.

Four more games remain in Northwestern’s 2018 schedule. The Wildcats host Notre Dame Tuesday afternoon, with freshman Anthony Alepra getting the ball. Belmont will visit Evanston over the weekend for a three-game set to close out the season.