The Hawkeyes finished up a nine-game home stand over the weekend with a visit from Rutgers. The weekend got off to a hot start, as Iowa dominated the first two games of the series and it looked like they were going to have their second sweep in a row. Then game three happened. Ugh. Iowa is now 18-12 overall and 5-4 in Big Ten play.
GAME 1: Iowa 6, Rutgers 1
Cole McDonald stepped on the mound for game one and did mean, terrible things to the Rutgers hitters. He threw 6 1/3 shutout innings while striking out eight. After struggling to get things going early, Iowa's offense finally broke through in the bottom of the 6th inning, scoring four runs on three hits. The inning included an RBI double from hitting machine Austin Martin, and a three-run home run from Izaya Fullard that still hasn’t landed.
Iowa added two more runs in the 7th on a Mitchell Boe double. Trace Hoffman gave up a run in the 7th, but finished out the final 2.2 innings for the Hawkeyes and picked up the save.
Highlights and reaction from Friday's 6-1 win! Hope to see lots of Hawkeyes in the stands on a nice Saturday afternoon (2:05 first pitch)! pic.twitter.com/dPuyt9mV3B
— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) April 6, 2019
Game 2: Iowa 9, Rutgers 5
Rutgers got on the board first in game two, getting a run in the first inning. Iowa answered right back as Chris Whelan singled and scored on a Mitchell Boe double. The Hawkeyes scored another in the 2nd when Tanner Wetrich launched his third home run of the year. In the 4th, doubles by Connor McCaffery and Zeb Adreon gave Iowa a 3-1 lead.
For the second game in a row, Iowa did most of their damage in the 6th inning. The Hawks scored four runs on four hits, starting with a beautiful bunt from Izaya Fullard to start the inning. Ben Norman followed up the lead-off single with an RBI double. After a McCaffery groundout, Tanner Wetrich was hit by a pitch, putting runners at the corners with one out. Iowa then got singles from Zeb Adreon and Matthew Sosa that pushed the lead to 6-1. They would add one more on a Mitchell Boe sac fly, extending the lead to 7-1.
Iowa couldn’t put Rutgers away, allowing them to score four runs on four hits in the top of the 7th. Cam Baumann was replaced after giving up a home run; he threw 6 1/3 innings and struck out five while giving up eight hits and three runs. Jason Foster replaced Baumann and couldn’t get anyone out, literally. He gave up two hits, walked a batter, and gave up two runs before he was pulled for Grant Leonard. Leonard came in and shut down the Rutgers rally, throwing the final 2.2 innings to earn his 7th save of the season.
Iowa added to its lead in the bottom of the 7th as Adreon brought home two with a double. Adreon finished the game 3-3 with four RBIs.
Highlights from Iowa's win in the first game of today's doubleheader. Make your way out to Banks Field for game two! pic.twitter.com/SKfy8AefkO
— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) April 6, 2019
Game 3: Rutgers 15, Iowa 3
Grant Judkins took the mound in game 3 with a chance for Iowa to sweep another Big Ten foe and move their conference winning streak to six games. That did not happen, as Rutgers came out for the final game of the series and dominated the Hawkeyes.
This game was ugly from the start, Rutgers scored five runs in the first inning, four of which were unearned. Rutgers had four hits in the inning, including a three-run homer from Carmen Sclafani. They added another run in the 2nd to make it 6-0. Iowa got a run in the bottom of the 2nd after a Wetrich single, a Rutgers throwing error, and a Matthew Sosa single.
After a rough first inning, Grant Judkins did everything he could to keep Iowa in the game. He threw five innings, gave up six runs (only one earned), walked two, and struck out two. He was replaced in the 6th inning by Duncan Davitt. Davitt gave up three runs on three hits in his two innings of work. In the 8th, Kyle Shrimp took over on the mound with Iowa trailing 9-3 and the wheels officially fell off of the Iowa wagon. In the 8th, Rutgers scored five runs on four hits, pushing the lead to 14-3. Shrimp gave up three runs while only getting one out, Drew Irvine gave up two runs on two hits and walked three before getting the final out of the inning.
There weren’t many highlights in this one, Iowa was outhit 15-7 and committed four errors. Judkins didn’t pitch terribly, but it's hard to keep your pitch count down when you aren’t getting any help from your defense. He is now 3-3 on the year and his ERA went from 1.69 to 1.70.
Iowa finished its nine-game homestand with a record of 7-2. They play at Bradley on Wednesday, a team that they beat 4-2 on March 26th. The Hawks will then head to Purdue, who is coming off of a very, very bad weekend. They were swept by Nebraska and outscored 39-9 in the three games.
Despite the loss to Rutgers, Iowa did move up to 6th in the conference standings. The bad news is that Michigan, Nebraska, and Indiana are starting to separate themselves from the rest of the conference. We're only about halfway through the conference season but with how well those three teams are playing Iowa will need to avoid dropping games to bad teams if they want to keep pace.