The Hawkeyes got their baseball season ramped up this weekend and they certainly carried their momentum from the end of last season into this season. Despite missing a lot of key contributors from 2017’s Big Ten Tournament Championship squad, Iowa started off the new season on the right foot, sweeping the Diamond 9 Sunshine State Classic Series. The fellas trailed late in the game in the first two contests, but did enough to finish their Florida trip 3-0.
Game 1: Iowa 4, Toledo 3 (Box Score)
The Hawks started their season with a matchup against Toledo, and things looked bleak late in the game despite a solid performance from the pitching staff. Nick Allgeyer pitched five innings and gave up three runs (none earned) before being followed by four scoreless innings from the bullpen. Two Toledo runs scored in the third inning on a play in which RF Robert Neustrom made an error (something he didn’t do all of 2017) and their third run came in the fifth inning following an error by LF Tanner Wetrich. The Hawkeye pitching staff combined for 12 strikeouts, including a career-high seven by Allgeyer.
With Iowa down 3-1 in the eighth, they began chipping away at the Toledo lead when Robert Neustrom made up for his third inning error with a solo shot to cut the deficit to one. The Hawks finished the comeback off in the ninth, loading the bases for CF Ben Norman. Norman would knock a single through the right side of the infield - his only hit of the game - to bring in two runs for the Iowa walk-off victory.
Game 2: Iowa 8, Oakland 6 (Box Score)
Iowa’s offense wouldn’t wait to get started in game two, and they really needed to, as Cole McDonald was roughed up early and often. The righty, who threw a no-hitter in the World University Games, gave up five runs, all earned, on seven hits in three innings. He was relieved by Jack Dreyer, Nick Nelsen, and Kyle Shimp, who pitched six innings of one-run ball to keep Iowa in it. This was a game where the Iowa staff really struggled with command - they walked seven batters in this game but found a way to work around those walks to keep Oakland from tacking on more runs.
I already mentioned Iowa’s bats - they got things going in the first, blitzing Oakland for five runs in the inning. The Hawks batted around in the first, bringing home runners on three doubles (one run each on Kyle Crowl and Neustrom doubles, two on a Mitchell Boe double) and a Grant Judkins walk with the bases loaded. Later in the game, after the staff surrendered the lead again, Tyler Cropley hit his first homer of the year to give Iowa the 8-6 lead they’d finish with.
Every Iowa starter in the game made it into the hit column as the Hawks finished with 11 hits.
Game 3: Iowa 4, Old Dominion 1 (Box Score)
The pitching was the story in the final game of the weekend series, as Iowa shut down Old Dominion’s offense outside a rough sixth inning. Brady Schanuel (who was on a pitch/innings count) started and threw 3.2 solid innings of scoreless baseball before the bullpen nailed it down for Iowa. The staff only surrendered six hits and made life difficult for Old Dominion the entire contest. Zach Daniels particularly shined in this one - he threw two scoreless innings to close the game out, throwing just 15 pitches in the process.
The bats tallied 11 hits in this game, but scored just enough runs to keep things comfortable for the staff. In the second inning, Mitchell Boe knocked in two runs with a double for the second consecutive game to provide all the runs Iowa needed. Matt Hoeg would add a run on a sacrifice fly in the third and just for good measure, Iowa would tack on a fourth run in the seventh on Judkins’ second RBI walk of the series.
Iowa travels to the Big Easy next weekend to take part in the Allstate Sugar Bowl Baseball Classic. They’ll play Virginia Tech on Friday, Ball State on Saturday, and close out the weekend with a game against New Orleans.