By JAMES ALLAN
HOOVER, Ala. — A season-high 14 runs sent the University of Iowa baseball team to a 14-7 victory over Morehead State on Sunday afternoon at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. The Hawkeyes won two of three games over the weekend at the Hoover Classic.
Iowa’s 14 runs came on a 10-hit day. Junior Chris Whelan led the team, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs in his first game in the leadoff position. Senior Mason McCoy was 2-for-4 with four RBIs, and junior Matt Hoeg was 2-for-5 with two doubles and three runs scored.
“It wasn’t a pretty game, but offensively we battled,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “We talked before the game about how we needed to be disciplined at the dish; the guy we were facing could be wild, but he is a guy that spots up on you. We were going to have to be aggressive and disciplined with our approach. We did a great job, we walked nine times and only struck out once. We had some big hits, and up-and-down the lineup we battled.”
Trailing 3-0 through 1 1/2 innings, Iowa took control in the second, batting around and plating six runs — the team’s biggest inning of the young season.
Hoeg started the frame with a double before the Hawkeyes loaded the bases via a walk and hit-by-pitch. Sophomore Mitchell Boe’s sacrifice fly made the score 3-1 before Corbin Woods drew a walk to load the bases a second time.
Whelan followed with a walk to force in Iowa’s second run before senior Mason McCoy roped a bases-clearing double to left field, giving the Hawkeyes a 5-3 lead. Sophomore Robert Neustrom’s RBI single accounted for the final run, pushing the Iowa lead to 6-3.
“I was trying to get a pitch I could hit,” said McCoy. “Luckily, he threw me one inside that I could get the barrel on and it was a big two-out hit.”
Morehead State got two runs back in the fifth inning with a two-out rally, but the Iowa offense answered in bottom half. Junior Zach Fricke ripped an RBI double to plate Hoeg, and Boe’s sacrifice bunt advanced Fricke to third. He scored Iowa’s eighth run on a wild pitch.
Morehead State closed the gap to 8-7 with single runs in the sixth and seventh innings against reliever Sammy Lizarraga, but the Hawkeyes put the game away with six runs in their final two at-bats.
Iowa put up a three-spot in the seventh on two hits. After Fricke drew a leadoff walk, pinch runner Ben Norman used his speed to manufacture a run. The freshman stole second and moved to third on a throwing error before scoring on a wild pitch.
The Hawkeyes pushed the lead to 11-7 on RBI singles from Whelan and McCoy — his fourth RBI of the game. Iowa scored its final three runs in the eighth on a Norman two-RBI ground-rule double. He scored Iowa’s 14th and final run on a wild pitch.
Morehead State jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first against Iowa starter Drake Robison, sending eight batters to the plate. Robison went four innings in his first career start, allowing three runs on seven hits. He had three strikes to two walks.
Sophomore Zach Daniels (1-1) earned the win, allowing two hits over three shutout innings. Morehead State’s Luke Humphreys (1-1) was tagged with the loss, allowing five runs on two hits over 1 2/3 innings.
“Defensively, it was another strong game,” said Heller. “We weren’t sharp on the mound today, but I was proud of how the guys fought back after we fell behind early.”
The Hawkeyes (4-3) return to action Tuesday, hosting Cornell College at 3 p.m. (CT) at Duane Banks Field.