A week after Indiana took Iowa to the woodshed and swept them, Iowa returned home to take on 23rd ranked Illinois and did some sweeping of their own. With the sweep, the Hawkeyes improved to 15-10 on the season and 8-1 at home. Since 2015, Iowa is now 80-21 at home, which is pretty damn good! Another positive, the sweep, along with the results from football, basketball, and wrestling means that Iowa now officially owns the University of Illinois, good job everyone!
Game 1: Iowa 8, Illinois 4
For what seems like the first time all season, Iowa jumped out to a 2-0 lead in game one thanks to an Austin Martin double and a Ben Norman single in the 3rd inning. They added another run in the 4th on yet another Austin Martin hit, this time a single. Illinois didn’t go away, scoring one in the 5th and three in the 6th to take a 4-3 lead. Trenton Wallace pinch hit in the 7th and brought in the tying run with a single. Iowa took the lead for good in the bottom of the 8th, scoring four runs thanks to four walks from the Illinois pitching staff and a Grant Judkins double.
Grant Leonard closed out the game and got the win after pitching 1.1 shutout innings. Cole McDonald started for Iowa and threw six innings, struck out five, and gave up four runs.
Austin Martin finished 3-3 with two runs scored and 2 RBIs. Boe Mitchell had three hits and scored three runs, and Grant Judkins continued to do a little bit of everything, going 1-1 with 2 RBIs after his pinch hit single in the 8th.
Highlights, plus Boe, Martin, Heller, and Whelan on Iowa's win against nationally ranked Illinois Friday in Iowa City. We hope to see lots of Hawkeyes at Duane Banks Field this weekend! pic.twitter.com/v465K24NK6
— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) March 30, 2019
Game 2: Iowa 2, Illinois 1
For the second game in a row, the Hawkeyes jumped out to an early lead, scoring two runs in the 2nd inning after Connor McCaffery led off the inning with a single. The next batter, Ben Norman, was hit by a pitch to put runners on 1st and 2nd. Both runners were moved over on a Chris Whelan SAC bunt and scored on a Tanner Wetrich single. These were the only runs Iowa scored all game, and thankfully they were the only runs that they needed.
Cam Baumann finally righted the ship on the mound, throwing six innings and giving up just one run on five hits with four strikeouts. Trenton Wallace relieved Baumann in the 7th and threw three shutout innings, striking out four and only giving up one hit.
Wetrich, Baumann, and Heller after Iowas 2-1 win Saturday against nationally ranked Illinois. The Hawkeyes go for the sweep Sunday at 1:05 in Iowa City. pic.twitter.com/LK8RCOdBib
— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) March 30, 2019
Game 3: Iowa 3, Illinois 1
With Grant Judkins pitching game 3, the Hawkeyes had their sights set on a sweep, and that is exactly what they got. Illinois took the lead in the 2nd inning after Judkins walked a batter with two outs and gave up back-to-back singles. After the 2nd inning, he settled in and did what he has been doing all season. Judkins threw seven innings, gave up six hits, and struck out five.
Iowa scored all three of their runs in the 3rd inning while only getting one hit (impressive). After a leadoff strikeout, Zeb Adreon and Mitchell Boe walked. Ben Norman would strikeout next, but Austin Martin would pick him up, ripping a 2 RBI triple to right center. He would later score on wild pitch, and that was everything.
— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) March 31, 2019
The Iowa bullpen shut the door on Illinois again, Trace Hoffman and Grant Leonard threw the final two innings and didn’t give up a run. Leonard picked up his 6th save of the season.
Judkins and Heller on the sweep of Illinois. Hawkeyes at home *5* times this week. See you at Banks Field! pic.twitter.com/HD0xxnN86V
— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) April 1, 2019
This was a huge series win for Iowa, they are now 3-3 in Big Ten play and get to play Rutgers (7-17) and Purdue (10-16) the next two weekends. The big story was the pitching staff, who held a very good Illinois team to six runs in the 3-game series. The starters all went at least six innings and the bullpen threw eight innings and didn’t give up a run.
Iowa plays Grand View (5-11) on Tuesday, an NAIA team who was recognized by the NAIA as a Five Star Champion of Character institution for the 8th straight year. Good job, guys! They will also play Illinois State (13-13) on Wednesday. Rutgers comes to town on Friday for a three-game series, and they are basically an NAIA school as well. Iowa is 4-0 on their current homestand; hopefully they can add several more wins to that total this week.