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Hellerball: Iowa Baseball Takes 2 of 3 at DQ Classic, Drops Finale to Minnesota

Two out of three for a second straight weekend isn’t so bad.

Margaret Kispert-The Daily Iowan

After the Hawkeyes took two of three games at the Hoover Classic in Alabama last week, you just wanted to see them put up a pretty solid showing in Minneapolis this weekend to keep them trending in the right direction. The Hawkeyes did just that, taking two out of three games for a second consecutive weekend and solidifying themselves as a solid competitor in the Big Ten.

One of the positives to take out of this weekend is that the Hawkeyes jumped on the scoreboard early in all three games, tallying eight first inning runs over the course of the weekend. While it didn’t help them against Minnesota, it’s always a good thing when you can make the opposing pitcher work hard early.

Let’s take a look at each game individually.

Game One: Iowa 7, Hawaii 6 (Box Score)

This one was almost a flashback to Iowa’s opening day of the season, as the Rainbow Warriors rallied for three straight runs in the ninth inning but came up short by a run. Nick Gallagher pitched another great game, scattering three runs over eight innings of work, but it’s obvious that there are going to be question marks in the bullpen all season long. Zach Daniels came in to seal the deal and surrendered the three aforementioned runs, and it’s hard to know what to expect from this team when their most electric reliever is this inconsistent. Nonetheless, a win is a win and it wasn’t a problem on Friday, so I won’t harp on it anymore here.

The bats were huge in this game as the Hawks tallied 17 total hits and every player with an official at bat (minus Tyler Cropley) recorded at least one. Six even had multi-hit days. Not too shabby! Jake Adams started the party in the first inning with a mammoth two-run homer, which would be his third of the season. He and Chris Whelan both had multi-RBI days, driving in three and two apiece. Mason McCoy continued his torrid start to the season with two hits of his own.

Game Two: Iowa 7, Oral Roberts 5 (Box Score)

This was probably the best team that Iowa played this weekend, at least in terms of how their opponents started the year. Oral Roberts came into the weekend at 7-1 on the season before getting swept in Minneapolis. Despite the sweep, Iowa’s performance against them on Saturday was quite impressive against a good squad!

It all started with Jake Adams again, who launched his fourth home run of the season to centerfield, his second in as many games and fourth of the season. Ben Norman and Matt Hoeg joined the long ball party, with Hoeg hitting a solo shot in the fourth inning and Norman hitting a two-run shot in the eighth. Adams and Norman both knocked in three runs on the day, while Hoeg scored three times.

While the offense was clicking on all cylinders, recording ten hits and drawing four walks, the pitching staff had itself a fairly solid day. Cole McDonald drew the Saturday start this weekend over CJ Eldred, who I would imagine is still dealing with forearm soreness, and went five innings, giving up three runs on four hits and three walks. It wasn’t perfect, but he gave the Hawkeyes a good chance to win in while filling in for Eldred. The bullpen threw four pretty good innings, particularly Ryan Erickson, who pitched three efficient innings and gave up one run.

All-in-all, a lot to like in this one!

Game 3: Minnesota 6, Iowa 3 (Box Score)

The Hawkeyes jumped out to an early lead again in this game, but the pitching staff was unable to take advantage against a pretty good Gophers squad in the get away game.

Another first inning home run? Don’t mind if the Hawks do! Iowa tallied their only runs on Sunday by way of a three-run homer by Robert Neustrom in the first inning, his only hit of the day. Neustrom’s second home run of the season extended his 10-game hit streak, which spans over the course of the entire season.

But the bats just couldn’t get it going otherwise in this one as Minnesota starter Toby Anderson settled in and threw five scoreless innings after a tumultuous first. The one through four hitters recorded Iowa’s only four hits on the day, which isn’t going to get it done against most teams.

The pitching staff didn’t fare much better on Sunday, but definitely needed to be picked up by the offense. Drake Robison’s struggles continued, as he only made it through 3.2 innings before being pulled. He gave up four runs while allowing nine baserunners in that time and it’s fair to say that once CJ Eldred comes back healthy, Robison won’t be making many more weekend starts unless his season turns around.

The bullpen had a much better day, however, as Zach Daniels locked down the Gopher offense through 2.1 innings of work. Kyle Shimp and Nick Nelsen also both came in for an inning of work where they each allowed a run.

On Deck

The first (originally scheduled) home game of the year is upon us! Northern Illinois visits Iowa City on Tuesday for a 3:05 start that will be aired on BTN Plus. The Huskies are 2-9 on the season, with their lone wins coming against Chicago State and an even worse Villanova team. Hopefully the Hawkeyes can take advantage of a team they should definitely beat. We’ll have the recap for you here on Wednesday.