Iowa's second southern road trip of the young season wasn't quite as flawless as their trip to the Diamond 9 Sunshine State Classic last weekend, where they went 3-0. Iowa went 2-1 at the AllState Sugar Bowl Baseball Classic in New Orleans, sandwiching two wins around their first loss of the season on Saturday afternoon. Still, 5-1 through six games isn't a bad place to be as this Iowa team continues to try and figure out its best combinations on the mound and in the lineup.
The Hawkeyes are set to head back south over the weekend for their first proper series of the season: a 3-game showdown with UAB in Birmingham, Alabama Friday-Sunday. UAB will be their biggest test of the year to date by far: the Blazers are 4-1 on the season and have an RPI of 75. Before that, though, they're going to try to get in their first home game of the season on Tuesday, against Cornell College at 4 PM CT. The current forecast for Tuesday calls for temps in the 50s and mostly sunny. Tickets for the game are just $2.
FRIDAY: IOWA 2, VIRGINIA TECH 1 (10 INNINGS)
Late drama has been a recurring theme in Iowa's early season action and, so far, the baseball gods have smiled on the Hawkeyes in those late game situations. Iowa picked up their second walk-off win of the season with a 2-1 victory over the Hokies. The game-winning rally started with Austin Guzzo getting hit by a pitch to get on base with one out. He was replaced by pinch runner Kace Massner, who stole second with two outs. He then scored the winning run after a hard ground ball to third from Ben Norman went into the outfield on an error, allowing Massner to score from second. Not exactly textbook, but it all counts.
Iowa's bats struggled to find much purchase against Hokie pitching in the game. They managed just four hits in 33 at-bats, though they did draw three walks and Guzzo's aforementioned timely HBP. Robert Neustrom had half of Iowa's hits in the game as part of a 2/4 performance. Kyle Crowl had perhaps Iowa's biggest hit of the game, with a solo home run in the third to get Iowa on the board. Ben Norman recorded Iowa's only other hit.
While Iowa's bats struggled in this one, their pitching didn't. Nick Allgeyer got the start and he was excellent, spreading five hits and one earned run over seven innings of work, while striking out eight and walking none. Allgeyer pitched five solid innings against Toledo last week, and he's definitely been Iowa's strongest starting pitcher so far. Zach Daniels relieved Allgeyer and pitched three shutout innings out of the bullpen, giving up just one hit and one walk while striking out four.
Watch Highlights and postgame reaction from Friday's walk-off winner in the Big Easy! Two more in New Orleans this weekend, then the home opener Tuesday in Iowa City. pic.twitter.com/ADnPrGt6iS— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) February 24, 2018
SATURDAY: BALL STATE 14, IOWA 6
Iowa's undefeated start to the season crashed to a halt on Saturday as the bottom fell out in an ugly loss against Ball State. The game started pretty well for Iowa, with the Hawkeyes going up 2-0 after two innings, but things started going south in the third when Seth Freed cranked a 2-run home run to tie the game. Things melted down entirely in the fourth, as Ball State plated seven runs behind five hits, a HBP, an error, and a wild pitch. Just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong there. Iowa cut the lead to 10-5 after seven and 11-6 after eight, but Ball State extinguished any faint glimmers of hope for an incredible comeback by tacking on three runs in the bottom of the eighth.
Brady Schanuel got the start for Iowa in this game but he was pulled during that disaster of a fourth inning, after going 3.1 innings and giving up seven runs (six earned) on five hits and four walks. Schanuel got through the first two innings without much difficulty, but gave up two hits (including a home run) in the third, and then things really broke in the fourth. He gave up two hits, two walks, and a wild pitch in that frame before getting pulled. No Iowa pitchers were very sharp in this game, though: all five Iowa pitchers who got to the mound were tagged for at least one run. Nick Nelson replaced Schanuel but gave up two runs on three hits in 0.2 innings. Cam Baumann gave up a run on a hit and two walks in an inning of relief, while Grant Judkins gave up a hit and a run in two innings of work. Ben Probst finished the game for Iowa and while he struck out three in his inning of work, he also gave up three runs on four hits. As a team Iowa gave up three home runs, which is difficult to come back from.
Iowa had 10 hits as a team against Ball State, but only Tanner Wetrich had more than one hit (2/4 with two runs scored). Ben Norman, Luke Farley, Robert Neustrom, Tyler Cropley, Austin Guzzo, Matt Hoeg, Lorenzo Elion, and Justin Jenkins had Iowa's other hits. Not many performances to savor from this one.
SUNDAY: IOWA 8, NEW ORLEANS 2
Iowa bounced back from Saturday's disappointment with a solid win over New Orleans, the host team at this event. Iowa jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first, doubled that lead to 4-0 after the second, and never really looked back. Iowa got going with Kyle Crowl getting hit by a pitch, Robert Neustrom drawing a walk, and Tyler Cropley scoring them both with a double. Iowa used a walk and three singles to score two more runs for Iowa in the second inning. New Orleans halved Iowa's lead in the third thanks to a hit and two errors, but that's as close as they got the rest of the game. Iowa added solo runs in the fourth and the fifth innings before grabbing two more insurance runs in the top of the ninth.
Iowa's bats feasted on the New Orleans pitching, picking up 12 total hits as well as nine walks. Five players picked up two apiece, including Jenkins, Neustrom, Cropley, Wettrich, and Boe. Cropley and Wetrich smashed doubles, while Crowl bashed a 2-run home run in the top of the ninth to really add some insurance runs.
Cole McDonald made his second start of the season and, fortunately for Iowa, good Cole showed up in this game as he went 7.0 innings and gave up just two runs (none earned) on three hits while walking one and striking out four. 14 od his 21 outs came via groundouts. Kyle Shimp replaced McDonald and pitched two scoreless, no-hit innings while walking one and striking out three. Sunday's game was just a strong bounce-back performance by Iowa all around.
Highlights and postgame from Sunday's 8-2 win in New Orleans. See you Tuesday at Banks Field in Iowa City! pic.twitter.com/YDlFZjHCPs— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) February 26, 2018
NEXT: Iowa is set to make their home opener on Tuesday, February 27 at 4 PM (BTN Plus) against Cornell College (weather permitting).