Hellerball is officially back, and the boys didn’t start the season on the right foot after dropping two of three to the South Florida Bulls. USF has been a pretty average baseball school as of late (they’ve finished the past few seasons just under .500), so this would’ve been a team that you would want the Hawks to take advantage of.
If there’s anything to worry about at this point in the season, it would be that it looks like this Hawks team is going to have a propensity to strike out a lot. Of course, it’s the beginning of the season and there’s still a long way to go, but Iowa struck out 39 times over the course of the three-game set. I wouldn’t worry about the team striking out a lot yet, but it’s something to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
Game 1: USF 9, Iowa 4 (Box Score)
This is one that the Hawks want back from this series. After building up a four-run lead by the eighth inning, Heller decided to go to the bullpen after Nick Gallagher issued a leadoff walk to start the bottom half of the frame. The bullpen was unable to get out of the inning before the Bulls blew the game wide open with nine runs, which would be plenty for USF. Iowa committed three errors in this game, and four of the Bulls’ runs were unearned, which definitely hurt the Hawks.
All-in-all, Gallagher pitched a great game, scattering five hits over seven innings of work. He ended up being charged a run, however, as the bullpen was unable to strand the inherited runner. Mason McCoy had himself a good day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a run scored.
Game 2: Iowa 4, USF 2 (Box Score)
The Hawks brought the heavy lumber with them to this one as they hit three home runs to lead them to victory in the middle game of the series, and they needed every one of them in a game marred by a 2 hour, 41 minute rain delay.
Mason McCoy and Jake Adams both went deep in the sixth inning to put the Hawks ahead and CJ Eldred pitched well for six innings, giving up one run on three hits to put Iowa in good position to take this one.
Up 2-1 in the seventh inning, sophomore Cole McDonald came in to relieve Eldred after the long delay, and he promptly gave up the lead by giving up a solo home run to Joe Genord. Not a great feeling to give up a late lead after blowing a four-run lead the prior day! In this one, though, McDonald limited the damage to one run, setting up some late game heroics.
Freshman Kyle Crowl strode to the plate with a runner on second and one out and took USF’s Michael Farley deep in the ninth to win this one for the Hawks. The hit was Crowl’s first of his career, and if you ask me, a go-ahead home run is a pretty good way to get your first collegiate hit.
Pretty cool here, too.
If there are any negatives to take out of this one, it would be the strikeouts. While Iowa brought the long ball with them in this game, they also struck out 16 times. They only left five guys on base, but you’re not going to have a whole ton of guys on when you’re striking out as much as they did here. Credit to USF’s Shane McClanahan for punching out nine Hawks over four innings in his start.
Game 3: USF 6, Iowa 0 (Box Score)
There isn’t a whole lot to say about this game. USF tallied three runs in the first inning off sophomore Shane Ritter and never looked back. The first two batters of the game were walked by Ritter, which was a pretty good indicator of how the afternoon went for the Iowa pitching staff. All four pitchers who entered the game for the Hawkeyes surrendered a run and issued at least one walk.
Things didn’t go much better at the plate for Iowa. Robert Neustrom led the charge for the Hawks in this one, going 2-for-4 on the day. Only two other Hawks made it into the hit column as USF’s staff handled Iowa well all day long.
Next Up: Loras College
The Hawkeyes will take on Loras on Wednesday evening at Duane Banks Field. The game is at 5 p.m., so if you’re interested in catching some February baseball with May weather, you should definitely make it out to the game - the high is 73 degrees in Iowa City. Gotta love it.