Another weekend, another series win for Iowa Baseball, this time over the Big Ten-leading Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Hawkeyes took home wins on Friday and Saturday before dropping the finale. Iowa won the opening game 3-2 before an offensive eruption in a 17-9 victory on Saturday, and dropped the finale 3-2. The weekend series puts the Hawkeyes in fourth in the Big Ten rankings with a 23-15 overall record and 9-6 in conference play.
Let’s recap a weekend full of solid baseball action.
Game 1: Iowa 3, Nebraska 2 (Box Score)
With two outs in the bottom of the 9th and his team tied at 2 apiece with the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Iowa Baseball junior Zed Adreon hit a walk-off RBI single to secure a 3-2 victory for the Hawkeyes.
This game winning hit came on the heels of a single to start the final half inning from senior Tanner Wetrich, who has now hit in eight consecutive games, which was followed by another base hit from junior Justin Jenkins, in which Nebraska threw Wetrich out. But Jenkins was able to steal second, which set up Adreon to drive him home for the win.
“He’s a good hitter and clutched up big time,” Iowa head coach Rick Heller told HawkeyeSports after the game. “I felt there was a really good chance he was going to come through in that situation the way he has been swinging it.”
Iowa was also aided on the mound from Cole McDonald, who threw six innings, where he allowed four hits and both of the Cornhuskers’ runs. Kyle Shimp pitched 1 1⁄3 inning in relief, along with Trace Hoffmann finishing the game and earning the win. Chris Whelan was also pivotal for the Hawkeyes, going 2-for-4 from the plate with 2 RBIs.
This game was an offensive explosion for the Hawkeyes, earning its 17 runs on 17 hits. Iowa looked to be in trouble early as Nebraska pitcher Nate Fisher sat down the first nine batters he faced. But the Iowa bats came alive in the fourth inning, with Ben Norman hitting a 3-run homer to take an early 3-1 lead. Back-to-back home runs from the Huskers tied things up in the fifth, but the Hawkeye bats exploded in response, and Iowa never looked back.
After giving up the tying runs in the fifth, the Iowa offense came out and had strong performances from just about every player who touched a bat. With two outs, Chris Whelan got things going with a single that began streak of seven consecutive hits for the Hawkeyes. He was joined on base by Mitchell Boe, before a Austin Martin double into center field brought the two base runners home for a 5-3 lead.
Sophomore Izaya Fuller responded to Martin’s hit with a two run homer of his own to put the lead up to 7-3, and ended the day for Fisher. Nebraska’s next pitcher Mike Waldron did not record an out, instead allowing four runs on four consecutive hits from Norman, Wetrich, Adrian and Connor McCaffery. For good measure, Boe was walked with the bases loaded for Iowa’s eighth run of the inning for an 11-3 lead.
Iowa did it again in the next inning, facing two outs and scoring five more runs, when Matthew Sosa doubled home Wetrich and Norman, before Whelan brought Sosa home, and finished the deal with a Boe triple to bring the lead to 16-4. An error off a Fullard hit in the eighth inning brought home Whelan for Iowa’s final run of the day.
Check out a video recap here:
We'll see you again Sunday at 1:05 for the series finale, right Hawkeye fans? pic.twitter.com/s677vV7w8D— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) April 20, 2019
Quite the day from the offense. @UIBaseball— Sam Bornstein (@Sam__Bornstein) April 21, 2019
• 17 hard-hit balls (95+ MPH exit velo)
• 11 of those 17 > 100 MPH EV
• 8 of those 17 in the 5th inning alone
• 108.6 MPH max EV from @bnorman20
• 406 ft. home run from @IzayaFullard23
Also, Nate Stanley threw a strike in the ceremonial first pitch:
The offense wasn’t quite as powerful for the series finale, but this was a game that Iowa could have won. Nebraska led 3-0 after seven innings thanks to two unearned Husker runs, and honestly the Hawkeyes could have faced a larger deficit if not for this athletic catch from Norman:
McCaffery’s first home run of his young career in the seventh got the Hawkeye lead down to two runs, and the Hawkeyes were able to hold the Huskers in the eighth and score a run off an RBI single from Fullard in the same inning. But Iowa also stranded two runners on base in that inning, and couldn’t muster a rally in the ninth.
“We had an opportunity to make a big statement,” Heller told HawkeyeSports. “It’s still a good weekend, but not getting the sweep when it’s right there at your fingertips hurts a little bit, and it should.”
Up next, Iowa will host the Milwaukee Panthers tonight at 6:05 p.m. at home. Freshman RHP Duncan Davitt will take the mound for the Hawkeyes; he has a 1-1 record and a 4.76 ERA from 12 appearances this season. He’ll face right-hander Jared Reklaitis, who has a 7.71 ERA (yikes!) and a 4-4 records from 12 appearances, which includes 12 starts.
The game can be viewed on BTNPlus and broadcasted on the Hawkeye Radio Network where available.