Thus far, the Iowa spring has been brutal. That is, unless you prefer 30-degree temps and snow falling during a baseball game. Fortunately, the Hawkeyes (19-10, 5-3 B1G) have been anything but cold. The winning continues following a tough series against Ohio State (20-10, 3-3) at Duane Banks Field over the weekend.
Iowa has not lost a conference series dating back to last season. This has helped position them to have the third best RPI in the Big Ten Conference. They are one spot behind Illinois, who boasts an RPI of 35 and Indiana at 20. The Hawks split the series with the Hoosiers this season (one game was cancelled) and won the series against the Fighting Illini. They now sit in sixth place in the B1G.
Game One: Ohio State 2, Iowa 1
The Hawkeyes dropped game one of a doubleheader after grabbing an early 1-0 lead when C Tyler Cropley singled home DH Chris Whelan in the third. The Buckeyes responded in the fourth inning by plating two runs.
Iowa had several opportunities to knot the game or take the lead, but failed to come up with timely hits. Instead, they struck out 12 times as OSU SP Connor Curlis cruised through 6 2/3 innings, striking out eight. Iowa had two runners on in the fifth, two in the seventh and two in the ninth, going 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
Iowa SP Nick Allgeyer (3-3, 2.34 ERA) was hit with the loss, despite a quality start and allowing one earned run. He tied a career-high with eight strikeouts, which he had against the Fighting Illini a weekend ago. The defense also played well — check out 3B Lorenzo Elion’s play at the hot corner.
Game Two: Iowa 9, Ohio State 5
The Buckeyes struck quickly in game two against Iowa SP Brady Schanuel, leading 1-0 in the first. It did not last long. The Hawkeyes bats awoke in the bottom frame, sending 11 batters to the plate.
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The OSU defense struggled to get things going in the first with two costly errors. Iowa took advantage with seven runs on five hits, tying a season-high for runs in an inning. With the errors, Ohio State SP Ryan Feltner was only credited with two earned runs of the seven scored.
After struggling through two innings of work where he was crushed for six runs last weekend, Schanuel (5-3, 4.14 ERA) bounced back. Picking up the win, he allowed three runs on six hits over six innings. Schanuel has struggled this year to find full command of his pitches and walked four batters, bringing his walk total up to 28 in 37 innings. Still, he continues to be a strikeout machine with seven for the game and 44 on the season.
Elion tied a career-high three RBI, going 2-for-4. Cropley went 2-for-3 with two runs and hit safely in a career-high 12 games. He also reached base safely in a career-best 16 straight, but the streak came to an end on Sunday.
Game Three: Iowa 2, Ohio State 1
Tied 1-1 in the eighth, LF Grant Judkins delivered a critical two-out RBI double down the left field line driving in SS Kyle Crowl for the lead.
Pitching continued to be dominant for the Hawkeyes after SP Cole McDonald (2-1, 3.19 ERA) allowed three hits, one earned run and struck out eight in six innings on Sunday. He exited with a no-decision, but had his finest outing of the season and coach Rick Heller credits as his best at the U of I. RP Zach Daniels (4-1, 1.57 ERA) replaced McDonald and completely shut the door on OSU in three innings, allowing one hit and a walk for the win.
MVP of Ohio State Series:
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- Starting Pitching (Allgeyer, Schanuel and McDonald): combined to go 18 innings, 14 hits, five earned runs, eight walks, 23 strikeouts and one win
A Look Ahead:
The Hawkeyes will travel twice this week. First they head to Peoria, Illinois, for a midweek matchup against Bradley on Tuesday before leaving for Lincoln to face Nebraska on Friday.
As last year’s B1G regular season defending champs, the Cornhuskers have lost its spark. The team now sits in the bottom rung of the conference with a 14-16 overall record. Michigan State, another struggling team, swept Nebraska in a two game set last weekend.
***Follow Sean Neugent on Twitter: @SeanNeugentHN