Cole McDonald struck out 9 over 8 innings in a 4-2 win for Iowa over the top-seeded Indiana Hoosiers in the first round of the Big Ten Baseball Tournament.
The senior right-hander tossed 108 pitches in the outing, 71 of which went for strikes. He set up closer Grant Leonard, who capitalized on his opportunity at a school record.
He's done it!@GrantLeonard15 is Iowa's new record holder for most saves in a single season with 1⃣4⃣!#Hawkeyes #FightForIowa pic.twitter.com/AcHinqkDEc— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) May 23, 2019
Leonard did give up a run in the ninth, but was able to cling to a lead after Indiana’s Cole Barr hit a single to right center, sending Elijah Dunham home.
Given Iowa’s late-season floundering and Indiana’s first placeness, this was a little bit of a shock, even with Rick Heller’s history. Try this one on:
No. 8 seeds are 5-9 all time in the Big Ten Tournament. The #Hawkeyes have all five of the wins: https://t.co/9KNqJLoOkB— Dargan Southard (@Dargan_Southard) May 23, 2019
Indiana swept Iowa in pretty convincing fashion in Bloomington back in late March. The Hoosiers went into Omaha after a sweep over Rutgers, and taking two of three from Michigan in the series before that.
Iowa’s defense and bats held their own while the pitching got it done. Double plays ended the sixth and seventh innings while Indiana had ample chances to score, while the Hawkeyes managed to turn 9 hits into 4 runs.
Junior centerfielder Justin Jenkins had his first three-hit game as a Hawkeye. A Terre Haute native, Iowa’s No. 9 hitter did it against his local team nonetheless.
Iowa’s Mr. Reliable in left fielder Chris Whelan came to play last night—his 2-4 outing contributed to Iowa’s three-run seventh inning that included blasts from Izaya Fullard and Tanner Wetrich.
Indiana drew first blood after a Matt Gorski single brought Drew Ashley in. Iowa’s triple-headed seventh was enough on its own, while a fielding error brought Ben Norman in for a run the following inning. And that was all she wrote.
Iowa will likely take on Nebraska tonight at 9pm; they are currently beating Minnesota 8-1 as I write this.
Iowa vs. Nebraska in Omaha?