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Iowa downs Houston in NCAA opener

That... that was a lot of fun.

Jake didn’t rake, but Iowa won anyways. He was probably saving them for tomorrow, come to think of it. (Alex Kroeze/Daily Iowan)

Iowa is a good baseball team.

We already knew this, of course, but on Friday night, against Houston pitcher Trey Cumbie — who had just a 1.88 ERA coming into the tournament — Iowa got 10 hits and 4 runs, proving something to the rest of the nation. No other team has gotten that many hits off Cumbie this season.

In fact, Cumbie had taken just one loss all season before the Hawkeyes flatout demolished him. It started early. Chris Whelan got a single in the very first Iowa at-bat of the day and while Cumbie got the rest of the side, it was a sign of things to come.

The Cougars never led this game. Iowa catcher Tyler Cropley got the scoring started, hitting a leadoff single in the second inning. He stole second base and was brought home by a Ben Norman RBI single. It was the first of three hits by Norman, who scored two runs during the evening.

He also wasn’t too shabby in the field.

Iowa tacked on another run in the fourth, off an RBI single by Mitchell Boe, who continued a solid streak of games. Houston would get two runs back in the bottom of the frame, but the Hawkeyes added two more in the fifth to keep the Cougar’s from clawing back in the game.

Houston did add one run in the bottom of the fifth and nearly had another in the bottom of the sixth:

Iowa appealed that Lael Lockhart didn’t touch the bag.... and it was correct. The run was taken off the board and the Hawkeyes got out of the inning. Call it a lucky break or whatever you want, really, but to put any doubts to bed, Iowa scored another two insurance runs in the eighth, courtesy of RBI singles from Boe and Whelan.

So, to recap. Iowa 1) roughed up on of the best pitchers in the NCAA. 2) Started Ryan Erickson, who went five innings, allowing just two runs. 3) Got 4 scoreless out of Kyle Shimp and Josh Martsching and 5) won despite Mason McCoy, Jake Adams, and Matt Hoeg combining to go 1-of-12 at the plate.

Iowa got big contributions from the middle and bottom of its order, totalling 13 hits. That’s solid.

Up next? No. 3 seed Texas A&M at 7p.m. (TV YTBD), who beat No. 2 seed Baylor 8-5 earlier in the day. Iowa starts off the tournament in the winners bracket and still has two more losses to give. We’re in pretty uncharted territory here, folks.

Buckle up. This might just get interesting.