The Big Ten opener for the Hawkeyes went under the radar this weekend due to the men’s basketball team almost completing the greatest comeback in NCAA tournament history, the women’s basketball team advancing to the Sweet 16, and the NCAA wrestling championships. The baseball team was probably more than happy about this, as things in Bloomington went about as bad as possible. After a 4-game winning streak, the Hawkeyes were dominated by the Hoosiers, getting swept in the 3-game series by a combined score of 23-4.
GAME 1: Indiana 3, Iowa 2
If you are looking for positives to take from this series, game one is where you will find them. Iowa fell behind early, as Indiana third baseman Cole Barr took Cole McDonald deep in the second inning to give the Hoosiers a 1-0 lead. Indiana would add another run in the 5th while the Iowa bats remained silent. Down 2-0 in the top of the 9th, Iowa finally got things going. Mitchell Boe and Ben Norman both singled to lead off the inning, followed by Izaya Fullard getting hit by a pitch. With the bases loaded and no outs, Boe scored on a wild pitch. Austin Martin followed with a sacrifice fly that scored Ben Norman. Iowa was not able to bring home Fullard and headed to the bottom of the 9th tied at two.
In the bottom of the 9th, Iowa pitcher Grant Leonard walked Cole Barr, who proceeded to steal second and score on a single to give Indiana the walk-off win.
The good from this game? Cole McDonald was phenomenal, working seven innings while only giving up two runs on six hits. He also had a career-high 11 strikeouts and looked absolutely filthy.
E7 | @mcdonald_cole is through seven and everything's working for the senior.— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) March 23, 2019
He's up to 11 strikeouts and has retired the last seven Hoosier's he's faced. #Hawkeyes #FightForIowa pic.twitter.com/3TC0P3VQgX
The bad? Iowa could not get Indiana starter Pauly Milto out of the game. The senior, who has been dominant all year, went 8.1 innings, struck out 10 Hawkeyes, and only gave up one earned run.
Game 2: Indiana 13, Iowa 1
This game was ugly from the get-go. Indiana scored two runs in the 2nd, two runs in the 3rd, two runs in the 4th, four runs in the 5th, and three more runs in the 6th before deciding that was enough. Iowa’s lone run came in the 7th inning when Ben Norman hit his fourth home run of the season. Besides the home run, the Iowa bats did a whole lot of nothing. Iowa only managed five hits, struck out 14 times, and did not draw a single walk.
While the bats couldn’t get a hit, the pitchers couldn’t stop giving them up. Starter Cam Baumann only went 2.1 innings, giving up four runs on four hits while walking four. Kyle Shrimp gave up two runs in one inning of work, Jason Foster gave up four runs in 0.2 innings, and Drew Irvine gave up three runs in two innings. The bright spot was Adam Ketelsen, who pitched two shutout innings and struck out five.
Game 3: Indiana 7, Iowa 1
Grant Judkins took the mound in game three looking to stop the bleeding from the game two bludgeoning. Judkins pitched well, but the defense let him down early. The lead-off hitter in the second inning reached on an error followed by a fly out and a strikeout. The inning should have been over, but instead, Indiana outfielder Grant Richardson crushed a 2-run home run.
Iowa struck back in the 3rd, scoring its only run of the game on a Trenton Wallace double.
From there, Indiana took over, scoring one in the 4th, one in the 5th, and three in the 8th. Grant Judkins gave the Hawkeyes another quality start, going six innings and striking out four. He gave up four runs,two of which were earned. Grant Leonard, one of Iowa’s top relievers, struggled again in game three, giving up three runs in his only inning on the mound.
Obviously, this was not how Iowa envisioned the start of conference play going. The Hawks did not have a lead in any of the games and struggled to get hits in key situations. Heller had some words about this after the game, saying:
"We aren't driving the ball. We're not in a great place. Some of the guys that need to carry us and come through with runners in scoring position are in a funk right now. We have to get out of here and go home."
Yes, Iowa needs to get out of Bloomington as fast as possible and forget that this series ever happened. The Hawkeyes now head back to Iowa City where they will play their next nine games. Hopefully, this will be exactly what the doctor ordered, but things aren't going to get any easier going forward. Iowa is now 11-10 and will take on Bradley Tuesday before hosting Illinois for a 3-game series. Illinois is currently 17-4 and was picked to finish 3rd in the Big Ten this year.
Iowa Batting Statistics as of 3/25/19
Iowa Pitching Statistics as of 3/25/19