Bats Come Alive in Win Over Alabama State

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HOOVER, Ala. — The University of Iowa baseball team pounded out a season-high 15 hits, including two two-run home runs, and scored the game’s final nine runs in a 9-2 victory over Alabama State in the opening game of the Hoover Classic on Friday afternoon at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
Eleven different Hawkeyes tallied at least one hit and four players had multi-hit games. Senior Mason McCoy (2-for-4, 2 runs), juniors Jake Adams (2-for-4, HR, 3 RBIs) and Matt Hoeg (2-for-4, RBI), and sophomore Robert Neustrom (2-for-5, run) all had two-hit games; junior Austin Guzzo was 1-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs.
“Today was a good day,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “We had many more quality at-bats then we had the four previous games and hopefully that’s a good sign.
“Overall it was a solid day, a great defensive day. It was a good way to start the weekend.”
Trailing 2-0 in the third, Iowa’s offense came to life, loading the bases with nobody out via two walks and a Neustrom single. Adams followed with an RBI single to left field, Hoeg drew a bases loaded walk to tie the game at two, and Guzzo’s RBI groundout gave the Hawkeyes a 3-2 lead.
The Hawkeyes added to their advantage in the fifth with a one-out rally. Hoeg started things off with a one-out, ground-rule double before scoring on a two-run blast from Guzzo.  It was the junior’s first home run of the season and Iowa’s fourth of the year. 
Junior Tyler Cropley’s RBI single accounted for the third run of the inning, extending the lead to 6-2.
Iowa extended its lead in the seventh, courtesy of an RBI single on Ben Norman’s his first career hit.  Adams made the margin 9-2 in the eight, hitting a towering two-run home run to left field. It was his second home run of the season.
“Everyone was seeing it well today, even balls that were mishit were hit well,” said Guzzo. “Everyone stuck to the right approach and I think this will be when the bats start clicking for us.”
Junior Nick Gallagher (1-0) earned the victory, allowing two runs on seven hits over seven innings of work.  He had seven strikeouts against two walks in the game.  Senior Ryan Erickson got the final six outs, allowing one hit over the final two innings.
“Nick didn’t have his best stuff, but he battled for us, which is good for him to have to do early in the season to find a way to log some innings,” said Heller. “He really settled in in the middle innings.”
Alabama State, an NCAA Regional team in 2016, scored first, plating two runs on four hits in the third. Gallagher pitched around further trouble, getting a groundout with the bases loaded to end the inning before retiring the Hornets in order in the fourth, fifth, and sixth frames.
Tyler Howe (0-2) suffered the defeat, allowing five runs on seven hits over 4 1/3 innings.  Four Alabama State pitchers had seven walks against five strikeouts.
Iowa (3-2) will face Alabama State on Saturday at 4 p.m. (CT).