Hawkeyes Pound Redbirds, 8-2

Four Iowa pitchers limited Illinois State to two runs and the Hawkeyes pounded out 12 hits to come away with the 8-2 victory on Wednesday night at Redbird Field. With the win, Iowa sweeps the two-game series against the Redbirds this season.

Freshman Michael Washburn picked up the first win of his career after going 2 2/3 inning of three hit ball, while striking out one Illinois State batter.

Iowa put two runs on the board in the second inning to jump out to the early lead off Illinois State starter Kitt Kopach. After loading the bases with one out, Jason White drove in the first run of the inning on a fielder’s choice to second base. With Luis Andrulonis on third base, White took off on the base paths and Illinois State catcher Greg Blaesing’s throw sailed into center field allowing Andrulonis to cross the plate to give Iowa the 2-0 lead.

Illinois State used four singles to tie the game in the bottom of the fourth off Iowa starter Casey O’Rourke. O’Rourke allowed three hits over the first three innings before Nick Crist and Luke Baughman started off the inning with back-to-back hits. After a sacrifice bunt by Brian Wilkin to move the runners to second and third, Blaesing and Chris Shepherd recorded RBI singles to even the score at two.

The Hawkeyes regained the lead in the top of the fifth. With two outs, Kris Welker was hit by a pitch for the 16th time this season to tie an Iowa record and made his way to third base on a pair of Kopach wild pitches. Freshman Jeff Engel picked up his first career RBI with a single up the middle to give Iowa the 3-2 advantage.

Welker doubled over left fielder Jay Molina’s head to leadoff the seventh inning. With one out, Engel hit a Texas leaguer into shallow left field to drive in Welker. Engel was aggressive on the base paths and it paid off as he stretched his third hit of the game into a double, his first in Black and Gold. Three batters later, White hit an RBI single through the left side to knock in Engel from second base to give Iowa the three-run lead.

The Redbirds put a pair of runners on base to start the bottom of the seventh, but Washburn got Joe Burke to ground into the 6-4-3 double play. With runners on first and third base, reliever Scott Brune entered and got Molina to ground out to end the threat.

Iowa got a lead-off double for the second straight inning when Jim Reid found a gap in the eighth. After moving to third on a Nate Yoho fly out to right field, Welker hit a towering pop fly that dropped in for a hit in shallow right field to knock in Reid and give the Hawkeyes the 6-2 lead.

The Hawkeyes added two runs in the top of the ninth to take a commanding six run lead. Andrulonis doubled to left center to lead off the inning and pinch hitter Gabe Haugland singled to left field. After a pop out, Lytle was hit by a pitch to load the bases. The first run crossed the plate on catcher interference by Blaesing before Nate Yoho hit a sacrifice fly to knock in Haugland to make the score 8-2.

Engel led the Hawkeyes at the plate going 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs. Welker and Reid also collected two hits apiece.

Iowa will round out its 2004 season this weekend with a four-game series against Illinois at Duane Banks Field beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday night.

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