Three up, three down. The Hawkeyes had themselves a perfect weekend against UNLV, sweeping the Rebels in a three game series that featured a lot of dramatics. While the Hawkeyes had the first game of the series in hand the whole way, Saturday’s doubleheader included a walk-off win for Iowa in game one, followed by a back and forth affair that the Hawkeyes won in the eighth in game two. The Hawkeyes now sit at 17-9 on the season, their best start since 2015.
We’ll recap that series for you, and as per usual, you can find a quick preview of Iowa’s next opponent at the bottom.
Game 1: Iowa 3, UNLV 0 (Box Score | Highlights)
The first game of the series was a pitchers’ duel, as Nick Gallagher and UNLV’s Alan Strong both pitched at least seven strong innings. Gallagher went seven innings, giving up three hits and striking out six, while Strong went 72⁄3 innings before getting the hook, giving up three runs on six hits and four walks.
Thanks to the great pitching by Gallagher and Josh Martsching, the Iowa bats didn’t need to do much to win this one. Iowa got on the board in the third with an RBI groundout by Chris Whelan, scoring Mitchell Boe. They would later add to their lead in the eighth when Tyler Cropley doubled to right, scoring Ben Norman and Jake Adams.
Game 2: Iowa 6, UNLV 5 (Box Score | DH Highlights)
This was the start of a great day for Iowa baseball. Despite giving up a solo home run in each of the last three innings, the Hawkeyes were able to prevail by scoring three in the ninth inning to walk off with the victory.
Ryan Erickson had a quality outing, going 62⁄3 innings and giving up three runs (one earned). He struggled with baserunners all afternoon, giving up five hits and walking four, but was able to work around it for the most part. He would eventually be chased by a Nick Rodriguez homer in the seventh. Zach Daniels didn’t have his strongest appearance, giving up two home runs in his 2+ innings of work, but he did enough to keep Iowa in this game.
The Hawkeye bats got started early, with Robert Neustrom scoring Jake Adams on an RBI double in the first inning, his only hit of the day. Adams would eventually hit his 10th home run of the season in the sixth and would follow that up with an RBI groundout in the eighth on his way to two RBI and runs in game one.
But the real story of this game happened in the bottom of the ninth. Down 5-3, the Hawkeyes were able to score three two-out runs to come back and win the game. The rally started when pinch-hitter Austin Guzzo drew a walk and was advanced to third after another pinch-hitter, Luke Farley, singled to left. Mitchell Boe, who was red-hot all day, tied the game with a double down the right field line, his second double of the day. Then all the Hawkeyes needed was a little roller up the middle for a base hit to score Boe from second. In case you can’t tell from the highlight video, it was a wild ending at Duane Banks Field and a fun game to be at.
Game 3: Iowa 7, UNLV 6 (Box Score)
Game two of the doubleheader was just as dramatic as game one, although without the walk-off win. Just take a look at the box score for a second. You’re back? These teams went back and forth all afternoon before the Hawkeyes were able to use some eighth inning heroics, something they’ve been doing quite often lately, to get the doubleheader and series sweep.
This wasn’t as great of a pitching performance as the Hawkeyes had in the previous two games, with starter Cole McDonald lasting just four innings and being charged two runs (both of which scored after he was removed from the game in the fifth). Kyle Shimp also gave up three runs, although all were unearned after the defense had a tough eighth inning. The Iowa pitching staff was otherwise pretty solid on the day.
Iowa got the scoring started in the third with a Jake Adams RBI double, scoring Whalen. Adams would come around to score on a throwing error to make the score 2-0.
This game really changed in the eighth, with Iowa blowing a 4-3 lead by giving up three in the inning, but getting them right back in the bottom half. Mitchell Boe led off the scoring with a 2 RBI double to left, scoring Hoeg and Farley. This time, Boe would score the winning run again, this time on a Mason McCoy grounder to third.
Boe was definitely the MVP of the series, as he went 5-for-10 with 5 RBI and four runs scored. He also made a handful of nifty plays in the field on Saturday to help save some runs.
The Hawkeyes have a two-game midweek series against South Dakota State, with the games being played at 4pm on Tuesday and 3pm on Wednesday. The Jackrabbits are 13-10 and come into this series on a four-game winning streak.
Interestingly enough, the Jackrabbits have some opponents in common with the Hawkeyes so far this season! South Dakota State has played Northern Illinois, Minnesota, and Oral Roberts, all of which Iowa played in early March and went 2-1 against. South Dakota St. is 1-4 against these opponents, with their lone win coming against NIU in the first game of the season, so there is a good chance that Iowa can extend that winning streak if you believe in performance against common opponents.
The Jackrabbits aren’t an opponent to overlook, however, as statistically, they are better than Iowa. They have a staff ERA of 3.75 and the majority of their oft-used pitchers have a sub-3.00 ERA, while Iowa’s staff ERA sits at 4.20. Meanwhile, their team batting average is .289, which is also nothing to scoff at, while Iowa hits .283 as a team. One thing South Dakota St. doesn’t do, however, is hit home runs, as they have 10 on the year. Jake Adams has 10 by himself, so the Hawkeyes could conceivably out-slug the Jackrabbits all series.