After dropping a winnable series to Rutgers just a week ago, the Hawkeyes got back to their winning ways in a big way - just a casual sweep of Penn State, the worst team in the conference. This is exactly what the doctor ordered and it’s great to see the Hawks beat up on a team that they needed to in order to increase their postseason chances. Iowa is now tied for third place in the Big Ten with three other teams with just a handful of games to go, and it’s looking pretty likely that they’ll be in a good spot come the Big Ten Tournament.
Let’s look back on the weekend, and as always, we’ll look forward to the next opponent at the end.
Game 1: Iowa 4, Penn State 2 (Box Score)
The first game of the series was by far the most tightly contested, but it never truly felt in doubt because of a masterful pitching performance by Nick Gallagher. The Iowa ace pitched eight strong innings, giving up just two runs (one earned!) on three hits. Most impressively, he struck out 10 Nittany Lions and didn’t walk a single one. He was even named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week!
The offense didn’t really get much going in this one, but they took advantage of enough of the opportunities they did have to put Iowa ahead early. Austin Guzzo put Iowa on the board in the second with an RBI single and the Hawks were able to take advantage of a Penn State error in the third to tack on a couple more runs. Matt Hoeg would later add an insurance run in the fifth inning just for good measure. Luckily for the Hawks, the 11 baserunners the left on base wouldn’t come back to haunt them in this game.
All-in-all, a pretty uneventful game. That wasn’t the case for the next one.
Game 2: Iowa 8, Penn State 2 (Box Score)
Before I go into what actually happened, let’s give some context for this game. Because of the impending terrible weather for Saturday and Sunday, this was the second game in a doubleheader. It started at 10:30pm and as you might expect, did not end until well after midnight. It was cold and misty throughout the entirety of the game. As someone who was in attendance, it was truly a weird experience.
That didn’t stop the Hawkeyes from thrashing Penn State.
Ryan Erickson received the nod to start the second game of the doubleheader, and while he wasn’t as excellent as Nick Gallagher, he still baffled Penn State batters throughout his 71⁄3 innings of work. The lefty allowed just one run on four hits while striking out five before handing things over to the bullpen. Shane Ritter tried to make things interesting by walking the bases loaded, but Josh Martsching came in to pitch his second game of the day and closed things out admirably to preserve the victory for the Hawks.
The offense was just as effective as the pitching staff in the second game, a nice departure from the first. Mitchell Boe had a productive day at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a 2 RBI double and an RBI triple. Grant Judkins would also hit a home run in the eighth inning, the first of his career, at exactly ONE IN THE MORNING. Everybody pitched in just a little bit to help seal the series victory for Iowa, and that’s probably the best part of this win.
Grant Judkins hit a home run at *exactly* 1:00 a.m. and the Hawkeyes swept a late night doubleheader against PSU! https://t.co/S8KO44mcD3— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) April 29, 2017
Game 3: Iowa 9, Penn State 1 (Box Score)
This is a game that Penn State probably should’ve won, but thanks to a collapse of epic proportions, the Hawkeyes were able to put this game way out of reach in the late innings.
Jake Adams got Iowa started in the seventh inning with a towering home run to left to tie the game at one, and after that, things just fell apart for Penn State. Three runs would end up scoring on a Matt Hoeg single after the PSU left fielder made a costly error that let the ball roll all the way to the wall, and that was just the start of things.
In the eighth, Adams would add to his RBI total by knocking in two runs on a double to get the Hawks started. He would be chased home in the next at bat by a Robert Neustrom single, and the game was put way out of reach when Tyler Cropley hit a two-run shot to left field to close out the scoring for the Hawks.
Iowa didn’t have a dominant pitching performance from their starter Elijah Wood in this game, but he and the bullpen did enough to keep this one close before the Hawkeye bats could break out late. Wood pitched his way out of a lot of trouble early, allowing seven hits over the course of 31⁄3 innings but not allowing a run. Drake Robison also pitched 31⁄3 innings in relief, giving up just one run to the Nittany Lions. Zach Daniels was credited with his team-leading seventh win of the season after pitching 2+ scoreless innings.
Iowa and their four-game winning streak travel to Macomb, IL to take on Western Illinois on Tuesday. The Hawkeyes and Leathernecks have faced off once already this season, with Iowa earning the victory in Iowa City. Let’s hope for more of the same as they start a quick road trip.