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Hellerball: Iowa Baseball Defeats Loras College 8-1 in Home Opener

Iowa jumped out to an early lead and never looked back on their way to victory Wednesday.

Margaret Kispert-The Daily Iowan

Due to some uncharacteristically fantastic February weather, fans were treated to what is probably the earliest Iowa home game in the history of the program. The Hawkeyes didn’t disappoint in the slightest, defeating the Loras Duhawks by a score of 8-1 in front of a recorded home crowd of 1,312.

Iowa jumped on Loras starter Brad Schwind (0-1, 18.00 ERA) early and often, ambushing him for five runs (four earned) over two innings of work. The Hawkeyes got their work started in the first with a Mason McCoy single up the middle, followed by walks to Robert Neustrom and Austin Guzzo to load the bases for third baseman Matt Hoeg. Hoeg was able to take advantage of the opportunity by lacing a bases clearing triple just inside the right field line, his only hit of the day.

That was all the offense that Iowa needed on the day, but they tacked on a couple more runs in the second inning by way of RBI singles by Jake Adams and Austin Guzzo to make the score 5-0. All-in-all, the first two innings are where the Hawkeyes really succeeded, getting nine guys on base against Schwind (six hits, two walks, one hbp). They looked really patient at the plate and were able to make Schwind work hard on his way to 58 pitches over his two innings of work.

That all changed when the Duhawks brought in lefty Aiden Wojciehowski, who baffled Iowa’s hitters all evening long. Over five innings of work, the Hawkeyes were unable to get a hit off of him, although they were able to capitalize on an error in the sixth to get on the board against the lefty. Iowa’s lineup seemed unable to regularly pick up on his changing arm slot, which would drop down against left-handed batters. I’m not saying it’s a huge issue, since most LHPs are tough matchups for lefties (and especially so when they drop down), but it was a bit unusual to see the righties not fare any better for the most part.

While the bats supplied plenty of runs for the Hawks, they didn’t need anything more than the first inning triple by Hoeg, as pitching was pretty stellar all night long. Starter Grant Judkins (1-0, 0.00 ERA) was credited with the victory after going three innings and giving up one hit. The bullpen was equally as good, with Sammy Lizarraga giving up the only Duhawk run of the game after it was well out of reach. Despite the two errors in the box score, the defense also helped contribute to the solid performance by the staff, making some spectacular plays to help keep runners off the basepaths.

Iowa is now 2-2 on the season, which is already a better start than last season, when it took them until Game 6 to get their second win.

Other Notes

  • Zach Daniels looked ELECTRIC last night as he struck out three batters and gave up one walk in the ninth inning. In the plate appearance that he surrendered the walk, he was unable to get some pretty close pitches to finish the at bat. It looks like his performance in the first game against USF won’t be one that gets repeated very often, as he has some great stuff.
  • The scoreboard last night didn’t show the pitch velocity, which was a shame because I was curious about how hard some of these guys were throwing. It’d be interesting to see what the radar gun picked up off guys like Judkins or Daniels.
  • As already noted, Judkins was solid, but Shane Ritter looked good after his not-so-great start down in Florida this past weekend, recording a one-two-three inning in relief. I’m thinking that one of these two guys will end up being the Sunday guy this season.
  • Errors matter - Loras committed three on the evening, and each led to runs for the Hawkeyes. Only half of Iowa’s runs were earned.

On Deck

The Hawkeyes are headed to Hoover, AL to take on Alabama State on Friday and Saturday. They’ll then take on Morehead State on Sunday in Hoover. Alabama State is supposed to be a pretty good baseball program despite their 1-3 record so this should be a good barometer of where the Hawkeyes are at after a week of games. Morehead State is 3-2.

I’m just mostly excited for the weather to get nice and stay nice so we can have more home games. That nice week of weather really spoiled me.