And we’re back! After a rough weekend in Manhattan, KS, the Hawkeyes returned home to play a Wednesday game against Bradley. Well, it appears to be just what the doctor ordered as Iowa stormed out to a big lead in the first inning and never looked back as their pitcher-by-committee approach limited the Braves to just one run.
Before we get into Wednesday’s game, I know that we at The Pants didn’t get you a weekend recap for Manhattan, so here are the scores for each game and a link to the box score for your viewing pleasure:
The Iowa offense was unable to really get anything going until the last game, where they exploded for 12 runs but the pitching staff also imploded and blew a seven run lead before the Hawkeye bats won it in the 10th. Kudos to the Iowa pitching staff for fighting through games one and two of the series without their 1-2 starters, Nick Gallagher and C.J. Eldred. They pitched admirably against a pretty good K-State squad.
Anyway, now that we’re past that, let’s talk about Wednesday’s game...
Iowa 12, Bradley 1 (Box Score)
The Hawkeyes abused Bradley pitching early in the game, putting six runs on the board in the first and third innings. These would be the only two innings in which Iowa scored, but it was way more than enough this time as the pitching staff limited Bradley to one run on what felt like a rare good day from everyone.
Jake Adams led off the Iowa scoring in the first with an RBI single to chase home Mason McCoy, who had reached on a single and was advanced to second on a groundout by Robert Neustrom. Adams’ single was followed by a single by Chris Whelan and a walk by Austin Guzzo to load the bases. Matt Hoeg was then hit by a pitch to force a run home, bringing up Tyler Cropley, who got all of a 2-2 offering and smashed it over the left field wall for a grand slam and his first home run of the season. In all, the Iowa lineup knocked around Bradley starter Ryan Hodgett for six runs on four hits in the first inning and chased him immediately.
The Braves brought in Matthew Richey to relieve Hodgett, and he did not fare much better against the Iowa lineup in his three innings of work. Richey recorded a 1-2-3 inning in the second, but in the third, the top of the lineup for the Hawkeyes roughed him up for six more runs.
How did it happen? Chris Whelan led off the inning with a single to right and Richey seemed to lose all control after that, walking four of the next six Iowa batters to force in two runs and recording two outs in the span of those six plate appearances. Guzzo and Cropley walked to load the bases, while Mitchell Boe and Mason McCoy were issued the walks that brought runs home. Robert Neustrom strode to the plate with the bases still loaded and with a full count, went opposite field for the second Hawkeye grand slam of the day and his third homer of the season to extend Iowa’s lead to 12-1.
ICYMI: Two Hawkeye grand slams in Wednesday's win. Iowa hosts Purdue this weekend. https://t.co/RGAHjWsoDz— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) March 23, 2017
That would be the end of Iowa’s scoring, but it didn’t matter much, as Iowa used seven pitchers who dominated the Braves all evening. Grant Judkins got the start for the Hawks and went three innings, giving up just one run on one hit and a walk. Zach Daniels was credited with the win, his third of the season, as he pitched two innings of scoreless ball in relief. All-in-all, there was a lot to like from Iowa’s staff as they scattered four total hits and three walks throughout the game. Hopefully they can build upon this and bring it in to their next series and beyond.
Speaking of their next series, the Hawkeyes are at home again this weekend to start the conference slate as the Purdue Boilermakers come to town for a three-game set. Purdue is 11-8 on the season and will end their 22-game road trip to start the season in Iowa City before heading back home.
If there’s one thing the Boilermakers lack, it’s solid pitching - of all their pitchers with at least a start, the one with the lowest ERA is sitting at 4.22 on the season. They have a couple of quality relief guys, but if they’re not able to stifle the Hawkeye bats early, it probably won’t matter much how good the back end of the staff is. Iowa will likely see Tanner Andrews (4-1, 4.22 ERA) and Gareth Stroh (1-2, 8.18 ERA) on Friday and Saturday, respectively, while it’s a bit less clear who will start on Sunday. The best guess is that Tanner Schumacher (0-2, 8.56) or Jack Dellinger (1-1, 6.17) will get the nod on Sunday as they are tied for third on the team in starts. Neither, however, seems to have established themselves as the Sunday starter yet.
On the flip side, Purdue can really swing the bat. Nick Gallagher is probable to start for Iowa on Friday, which is definitely going to help solidify the rotation for the weekend, but they’ll face a tall task against Purdue. The Boilermakers don’t hit for a ton of power but they do hit for high average - eight players on the team hit .278 or higher so far this season, but their team leader in dingers has three.
Friday’s action will be streamable on BTN+ ($$$), while it is likely that you can find the other two games on the radio.