Iowa baseball's nine-game homestand rolled on with a pair of midweek games this week, but unfortunately their winning streak came to an end. After winning the first four games of the homestand (including an impressive sweep of then-#23 Illinois), Iowa ran their winning streak to five games, their longest winning streak this season and their longest overall since an 8-game winning streak in 2017, with a 3-2 win over Clarke. Sadly, the wheels came off yesterday afternoon in an 11-6 loss to Illinois State. Overall Iowa's record sits at 16-11 on the season.
TUESDAY: Iowa 3, Clarke 2
The good news is that Iowa beat the Pride. The bad news is that they needed an eighth-inning rally to defeat a 15-14 NAIA squad. As omens go, that's not a great one! Iowa got off to a quick start, going up 2-0 in the first inning thanks to an RBI ground-out from Trenton Wallace that scored Mitchell Boe and an RBI single from Ben Norman that scored Austin Martin. Unfortunately, Iowa's bats went cold after that. Or, rather, their bats went cold with runners in scoring position. Iowa stranded seven baserunners in the second through seventh innings and scored no additional runs. Meanwhile, Clarke managed to tie things up with an RBI triple from pinch hitter Andrew Lein in the seventh and a solo home run from Jamal Howard in the eighth.
Iowa's eighth rally started with a fly ball out from Connor McCaffery before Grant Judkins got on base with a single and was replaced by Matthew Sosa as a pinch runner. A Brett McCleary walk moved Sosa to second and gave Iowa runners at first and second. Lorenzo Elion singled to load the bases before Chris Whelan hit a sacrifice fly to score Sosa and give Iowa 3-2 lead. Boe flew out to end the inning, with Iowa runners on first and second. Fortunately, Jason Foster was able to throw a 1-2-3 inning in the ninth to secure the win.
The pitching was pretty solid for Iowa in this game. Duncan Davitt got the start and threw five shutout innings, giving up just one hit and two walks, while striking out six. That's a solid start. Shane Ritter replaced Davitt and threw a shutout inning. Clayton Nettleton gave up a run on two hits, before Adam Ketelson gave up a run on a hit and two walks in his 2/3 of an inning. Foster replaced him and got the final four outs of the game and picked up his first win of the season in the process.
No Hawkeyes recorded multi-hit games at the plate, although 10 batters overall recorded a hit. Zeb Adreon got Iowa's only extra base hit of the game, a pinch hit double. As noted, Iowa picked up 10 hits and drew four walks (and only struck out four times), but mustered just three runs and left 11 runners on base. Not a great day for timely hitting.
A look at some of Tuesday's baseball action at Banks Field: pic.twitter.com/XD7KKGwkpJ— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) April 3, 2019
WEDNESDAY: Illinois State 11, Iowa 6
While the pitching was solid for Iowa on Tuesday, the same could not be said for Wednesday's performance. Iowa surrendered 11 hits on 16 hits, while also handing out five walks, tossing a wild pitch, and hitting a batter. The fielding also let Iowa down in a big way in this game, as four Hawkeye errors resulted in three unearned runs for the Redbirds.
The game started well for Iowa, as they went up 1-0 in the first after Chris Whelan scored on an RBI double from Austin Martin. Illinois State tied the game in the second when Joe Butler stole home. (Damn!) They took the lead with a pair of runs in the the third, before Iowa answered back with an RBI single from Nroman that cut the lead to 3-2. Illinois State added two more runs in the fourth, one on a double and one on an RBI single, and then scored again on a sacrifice fly in the sixth to go up 6-2. Martin got his second RBI of the game with a single in the seventh to reduce the Iowa deficit to 6-3. Unfortunately, Iowa's comeback effort went from "possible manageable" to "lol no way" in the top of the ninth, as they gave up five runs in the top of the ninth and saw the Illinois State lead balloon to 11-3. Three of those five were unearned and came as a result of errors. Chris Whelan hit a 3-run home run in the ninth to cut the lead down to 11-6, but that was as close as Iowa got.
This was a rough outing for the Iowa pitchers. Trenton Wallace got the start but lasted just 2.2 innings, conceding three runs on five hits and two walks, while striking out four. Worse news? Iowa only had one strikeout in the remaining 6 1/3 innings of the game. Drew Irvine replaced Wallace and gave up two runs on three hits in 1.1 innings of action. Adam Ketelson gave up one run on one hit and a walk in an inning of work, while Shane Ritter gave up no hits and no runs but walked two in 2/3 of an inning. Jason Foster, who locked things down on Tuesday, pitching 2.1 innings of shutout baseball (giving up just two hits and no walks) and was the only bright spot in the bullpen on Wednesday. Derek Lieurance gave up three runs (two earned) on two hits while recording no outs. Jake McLaughlin picked up the final three outs of the game for Iowa, but also gave up three hits and two runs (none earned). Rough stuff, and it could have been even worse, as evidenced by the 12 men Illinois State left on base in the game.
As a team Iowa picked up 10 hits and two walks and converted that into six runs. Austin Martin was a bright spot at the plate, knocking out four hits in five at-bats, including a double and recording two RBI. Chris Whelan went 2/4 with a 3-run home run as Iowa's other top hitter. Mitchell Boe, Ben Norman, Luke Farley, and Matthew Sosa recorded Iowa's other hits in the game. The pitching was the big problem in this game, but Iowa's bats didn't contribute much either until Whelan's 3-run blast in the ninth. That six-run output was a high water mark for Iowa in recent games, too; before that they had scored more than four runs just once in their previous eight games.
NEXT: Iowa wraps up their homestand with a visit from Rutgers (8-17 overall, 1-2 B1G) this weekend (Friday-Sunday).