April 1, 2015
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MACOMB, Ill. — Western Illinois pounded out 12 hits and two home runs in a 16-5 victory over the 24th-ranked University of Iowa baseball team on Wednesday afternoon at Alfred D. Boyer Stadium.
The win lifted Western Illinois’ record to 8-15, while dropping Iowa to an 18-7 mark on the season.
“The game crashed on us in the fifth and sixth innings,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “Whether it was the base on balls or the free bases, it gave them a chance to get back in it and then they got hot and we couldn’t stop them. Thirteen or 14 of their runs came with two outs and then in the fifth inning they got six runs with two outs.
“The bullpen didn’t pitch very well today either. On a day when the wind is blowing out at 30 miles per hour we paid for it because we didn’t have anyone come out of the bullpen and stop the bleeding to help us out.”
The Hawkeyes received plenty of run support early, building a 5-0 lead midway through the game. Nick Day sparked the initial lead for the Black and Gold, scoring off a Jake Mangler single to center field in the top of the third inning. The Solon, Iowa, native added on in the fourth, this time connecting on a two-run shot over the left field wall.
A two-run fifth inning capped the scoring for Iowa. Tyler Peyton got things going with a hard-hit single up the middle. Dan Potempa kept the bats alive by taking a free base after drawing ball four on a 3-1 count. Daniel Aaron Moriel would eventually drive in both runs, delivering with a double to left-center field for the 5-0 advantage.
Iowa starter Connor Grant pitched four innings of shutout baseball before a bumpy start to the fifth took him off the mound. Grant went four innings and allowed two runs on three hits. The Dubuque, Iowa, native tallied four strikeouts.
The Leathernecks were quick to erase their 5-0 deficit in the fifth inning. While taking advantage of a struggling pitching staff, the home team orchestrated a seven-run come-from-behind effort via five hits, three walks, and a hit by pitch. The offense continued in the sixth, extending a 12-5 lead with five runs on a pair of hits and a defensive error.
Unable to generate any offense late, the Hawkeyes went scoreless after the fifth inning. Western Illinois officially closed the door on Iowa’s hopes of a comeback in the bottom of the eighth inning. With two down and bases loaded, Colton Pogue solidified the win with a grand slam over the left field wall.
Sophomore Josh Martsching (0-1) was charged with the loss. The Bloomfield, Iowa, native surrendered four runs on a pair of hits after 2/3 of an inning of work.
“From an attitude or effort standpoint, I didn’t think we weren’t ready to play,” said Heller. “We squandered a few more opportunities in the early innings where we could have put some more runs up. We still had a five-run lead going into the fifth, we just weren’t able to get it going again after that.
“We’ll suffer it tonight, wipe it away, and get back to work tomorrow. We`ve got the scouting reports on Purdue, so we’ll take a look at that tonight, practice tomorrow, and get back on the road.
“Unfortunately, days like this can happen when you walk guys and that’s the story of today.”
The Hawkeyes return to action Friday, opening a three-game series with Purdue in West LaFayette, Indiana, at 4:30 p.m. (CT).