May 20, 2005
CHAMPAIGN, IL – The University of Iowa baseball team’s bats came alive Friday evening as they pounded out 18 hits in a 12-9 victory over the Fighting Illini in the series opener at Illinois Field.
The victory boosted the Hawkeyes’ record to 26-26 overall and 17-12 in the Big Ten Conference. Iowa remains in third place in the conference race, but are still in the hunt for the conference title.
Illinois took a quick 1-0 lead in the first inning, but Iowa tied it up in the second on a Jeff Engel RBI single. The Hawkeyes then exploded for seven runs in the fourth to take a commanding 8-2 lead. Chris Welker and Dusty Napoleon each bunt-singled to lead off the inning before Andy Cox singled down the right field line, plating Welker. Engel followed with an RBI groundout that brought Napoleon home. Jason White doubled to right center and a wild pitch scored Cox and advanced White to third. Nate Price then tallied an RBI single and Skyler Moss followed with a single through the right side. After Andy Lytle reached on a fielder’s choice, Nate Yoho smacked his sixth home run of the season, a three-run shot to right field that gave Iowa an 8-2 advantage.
Iowa added one run in the fifth on an Engel home run down the left field line, but Illinois responded by scoring two in the bottom of the fifth and one in the sixth to cut the Hawkeye lead to four runs at 9-5.
In the eighth inning, Iowa put up two runs on a wild pitch and a Welker sacrifice fly. But the Fighting Illini kept on fighting, as they pounded Iowa reliever Travis Sweet for four runs off three hits to cut Iowa’s lead to 11-9.
Iowa added an insurance run in the top of the ninth inning on a Justin Petty RBI double down the left field line. Hawkeye reliever Tim Gudex, who came on to retire the side in the bottom of the eighth inning, pitched a scoreless ninth to tally his fifth save of the season and preserve the 12-9 Iowa victory.
Jeff Maitland (1-1) picked up the win for the Hawkeyes, going five and 2/3 innings while allowing eight hits and three earned runs.
Iowa and Illinois will return to action tomorrow with a doubleheader starting at 4 p.m.