The Hawkeyes needed a victory after dropping this previous weekend’s series to Big Ten bottom-dweller Rutgers, and they got just what the doctor ordered on Tuesday night when Mason McCoy helped them defeat the Milwaukee Panthers with a walk-off single in the ninth inning.
McCoy's walk-off winner Tuesday: https://t.co/Y7Lt8iNRrz— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) April 26, 2017
Iowa got their scoring started in the first inning when Robert Neustrom was able to shoot a double to left field, chasing Jake Adams home all the way from first base. Neustrom was able to score later in the inning on a Tyler Cropley single to left-center to put the Hawkeyes up 2-1.
The Panthers tied the game in the second, but Iowa was able to reclaim the lead in the third inning by way of a Jake Adams solo home run to left. Adams’ home run was his 15th on the season, which has him sitting in first in the Big Ten and just outside the top five nationally in home runs, and gave him 48 RBI on the year, good for second in the conference.
Milwaukee would once again tie the game in the seventh inning, but one of the themes of Iowa’s season has been late rallies, and this game was no different as the Hawks were able to win it in the ninth. Zach Fricke was sent to the plate to pinch hit and lead off the inning, and after working a walk after a long at-bat, things seemed to fall into place perfectly for Iowa. Justin Jenkins came up with intentions to sacrifice pinch-runner Corbin Woods to second, but instead was hit by a pitch. Mitchell Boe came up to do the same, but his bunt slowly rolled down the third base line and ended up dying in fair territory to load the bases for Mason McCoy, who chopped a single off the hard Banks turf and into left field to win the game for the Hawkeyes.
Outside the late inning rally, the biggest story was that the Hawkeye pitching staff had themselves a solid day. They sent six pitchers to the mound, and while none of them went more than two innings, they all pitched rather admirably throughout the day. In just his second start of the year, Elijah Wood pitched two innings and gave up two runs, but the rest of the staff settled down after that. Sammy Lizarraga, Josh Martsching, Grant Leonard, Zach Daniels, and Drake Robison combined for seven innings of five hit baseball and only gave up one run combined to help pick up an offense that struggled to break the game open after scoring a few early runs.
Full highlights here:
Another look back at Iowa's 4-3 win against Milwaukee Tuesday. Hawks at home this weekend! https://t.co/uOi1HbedBu— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) April 26, 2017
All-in-all, this game wasn’t the prettiest and Iowa definitely would have liked to have beaten up on a weaker opponent, but they’ll take the victory and look to build on it going into this weekend’s Big Ten matchup.
The Hawkeyes will finish up their homestand with a series against Penn State this weekend. Friday’s game is at 6:05pm, Saturday’s is at 2:05pm, and Sunday’s is at 11:05pm. These games will be available on BTN Plus.
Penn State is currently 13-26 on the year (they’ll play Wednesday evening before coming to Iowa City) and you can find them at the very bottom of the conference standings with a Big Ten record of 2-10. Their lone conference wins come against a Northwestern team we’ve discussed at large here in the past couple weeks, as well as an Ohio State team that sits in 11th place in the Big Ten. They haven’t been able to break through against teams in the upper half of the conference, but as we’ve seen in previous weekends, those teams have found their groove a bit against Iowa.
As you’d expect with a team that’s at the bottom of the conference, there aren’t many players on Penn State’s roster that really scare you when you take a look at the stat sheet. Although he’s only played in 27 games, Willie Burger leads the team with 4 HR and 22 RBI, while four other players sit behind him with three home runs apiece. Mason Nadeau and Jordan Bowersox are the only two Nittany Lions hitting over .300 at .356 and .333, respectively, but the drop off is dramatic after that as the majority of the team hits below .200.
Their pitching staff isn’t a whole lot better - just two pitchers have sub-4.00 ERAs. Sal Biasi has a 3.96 ERA in his 10 starts and the other player, Colin Macon, has a 3.86 ERA in just two relief appearances this season. It’s pretty bleak from there on out.
This is definitely a series Iowa should win, and honestly, it’s one that they should (and maybe even need to) sweep. There would be no excuse for dropping this series, but as we’ve seen in the series against Northwestern and Rutgers, nothing is guaranteed. Let’s hope Rick Heller and Co. can take three from the Big Ten’s real bottom-dwellers and take that momentum on the road with them.