Another weekend series interrupted by inclement weather -- but also another weekend series won by the Iowa baseball team. It was their second straight Big Ten series of the season; in fact, they've lost just one series against a Big Ten opponent since the start of the 2017 season (they lost two of three to Rutgers last year). Iowa has done a very good job of upping their performance against league competition over the last season and a half and this weekend was no different as Iowa took the final two games of the series from Ohio State to improve to 19-10 overall (5-3 Big Ten).
SATURDAY GAME ONE: OHIO STATE 2, IOWA 1
Weather forced Friday's planned game to be postponed so Iowa once again played a doubleheader on Saturday. Pitching dominated this game as runs were hard to come by. Both teams had several opportunities to score more runs but came up wanting; Ohio State stranded 10 baserunners in the game, while Iowa stranded nine. Iowa got on the board first with a run in the third; Chris Whelan led off the inning with a double and Tyler Cropley knocked him in with an RBI single. Unfortunately Ohio State answered right back with their only runs of the game in the fourth as Allgeyer had his roughest inning of the game. OSU got a lead-off double and followed that with a ground-out to advance the runner and a pair of singles as well as an error. The two runs they managed to score held up for the rest of the game. Iowa had just four more hits for the rest of the game, although they did get runners on the corners with two outs in the ninth; unfortunately they couldn't manage to score the tying (or winning) run.
Outside of one bad inning, Nick Allgeyer was very good on the mound and his final numbers were still more than good enough to get a win in most circumstances: six innings pitched, two runs conceded (one earned) on five hits and three walks, with eight strikeouts. Grant Judkins replaced him and pitched three shutout innings while giving up three hits and a walk and striking out three. The pitching did their job to keep Iowa in the game. So did the defense; this was the game where Lorenzo Elion made a web gem-worthy play at third that wound up making SportsCenter's Top 10 plays list.
Unfortunately, the hitting couldn't really hold up on their end of the deal, as they only mustered the one run. Four players had all eight of Iowa's hits, with Whelan, Cropley, Justin Jenkins, and Mitchell Boe each notching two hits, with Whelan leading the way with two doubles. Strikeouts were a notable issue for Iowa in this game, as they whiffed in 12 plate appearances.
SATURDAY GAME TWO: IOWA 9, OHIO STATE 5
Fortunately, Iowa's bats didn't take long to wake up in the second game of the doubleheader, as Iowa exploded for seven runs on five hits (and two errors) in the first to take a 7-1 lead after one inning. OSU scored first after an RBI double in the top of the first but Iowa wasted no time getting going themselves. Their first four plate appearances: walk, single, single, single. A Kyle Crowl strikeout ended the single streak, but Lorenzo Elion followed that with a single, Justin Jenkins walked to score another run, Ben Norman hit a sacrifice fly, and Mitchell Boe hit an RBI double. Chris Whelan reached base for the second time in the inning off an error that also scored two runs. Scoring seven runs on only one hit bigger than a single is some real old school #Hellerball stuff.
Things settled down considerably after that explosive first inning. OSU cut the lead to 7-3 after an RBI double in the third that scored two, but couldn't build an even bigger inning to continue their comeback. Elion restored Iowa's six-run lead in the seventh with a single that scored two runs. OSU added two more runs in the ninth, but got no closer than that.
Watch a video recap with highlights and interviews from Saturday's doubleheader split Saturday in Iowa City. See you at Banks Field Sunday! pic.twitter.com/On51wU15jf
— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) April 8, 2018
Brady Schanuel got the start for Iowa and put together a pretty solid outing for Iowa after getting torched by Illinois last week. Schanuel lasted six innings and gave up three runs, although he made things interesting with six hits and four walks. Seven strikeouts certainly helped mitigate some of the damage from those additional baserunners. Nick Nelsen replaced Schaneul and pitched two shutout innings, giving up one hit, while Cam Baumann finished the game off with one inning of work in which he gave up two runs on three hits and a walk while striking out two.
Iowa's nine runs came on just eight hits in this game; five walks and a pair of errors helped the offense's cause quite a bit. Elion was Iowa's most effective hitter, going 2/4 with three RBI. Robert Neustrom went 2/5 with a double and Cropley went 2/3 and scored two runs. Austin Guzzo and Mitchell Boe added Iowa's other hits in the game.
SUNDAY: IOWA 2, OHIO STATE 1
Pitching again ruled the day in Sunday's rubber match for the series, but this time it was Iowa's turn to win a low-scoring affair in a game that ended amid snow flurries. Iowa took a 1-0 lead in the second, despite not recording any hits. Guzzo led off the inning by hitting hit by a pitch, then advanced to third on an error that allowed Elion to reach first base. After Elion stole second, Guzzo scored on a sacrifice fly from Kyle Crowl that moved Elion to third. OSU tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth off a solo home run from Noah McGowan. The next four innings were scoreless until Iowa came to bat in the bottom of the eighth. With two outs, Crowl drew a walk and advanced to second off a Justin Jenkins single. Grant Judkins laced a double down the left field line to score Crowl and give Iowa a 2-1 lead. That narrow lead held up as OSU went three up and three down in the ninth.
With the exception of my son throwing out the first pitch this one was my shot of the day. Go Hawks!!! pic.twitter.com/vRs42X5lxb
— Kurt Gldner (@HWKSTNG) April 8, 2018
In such a low-scoring game, the pitching was obviously crucial and Iowa got great outings from Cole McDonald and Zach Daniels. McDonald went six innings and gave up just one run on three hits and a walk while striking out eight; it was yet another really superb outing for McDonald, who's managed to drop his season ERA to 3.19 now. He was replaced by Daniels, who pitched the final three innings for Iowa and kept OSU's offense on ice. He gave up no runs and just one hit and one walk while striking out three.
— Hawkeye Images (@webcentrick) April 8, 2018
As noted, hits were hard to come by in this game, as Iowa mustered just five total. Judkins, who entered the game with just 13 plate appearances this season, went 1/3 and recorded the biggest hit of the game with his RBI double that plated the winning run. Crowl went 1/1 with a double and drew two walks, while Neustrom went 1/3 and Whelan and Justin Jenkins each went 1/4.
Highlights and reaction from another B1G Sunday win...in the snow! pic.twitter.com/yz5KEcNPXP
— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) April 8, 2018
NEXT: Iowa has a rare midweek away game at Bradley on Tuesday (7 PM CT), before heading to Lincoln for a three-game series with Nebraska next weekend.