By AUSTIN BRAMLEY
PUNTA GORDA, Fla. – The University of Iowa baseball team swept doubleheader over Lehigh on Sunday at the Snowbird Classic to give UI head coach Rick Heller his 800th career victory.
The Hawkeyes won the opening game, 15-7, before securing the milestone victory with an 8-3 triumph. Iowa moves to 9-6 this season.
“When you think about milestones like this, you have to go back and think about all those great players that you’ve had the opportunity to coach and the assistant coaches you’ve had along the way,” said Heller.
Iowa’s bats came alive in the opener, scoring 15 runs on 12 hits. The Hawkeyes broke the game open with an eight-run second inning before plating three in the third to build the advantage to 11-0.
“It was good to see our guys come out early with a lot of energy,” Heller said.
Iowa drew five consecutive walks in the second before junior Jake Adams stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and delivered a grand slam. It was Adams’ fifth home run of the season.
In the third, Iowa plated three runs via a Mitchell Boe RBI double and sophomore Chris Whelan and Adams also collected RBIs. The Hawkeyes scored two more in the fifth inning on an RBI single from sophomore Robert Neustrom and Adams’ hot bat continued. He doubled to left field to collect his sixth RBI of the game.
“It was good to see us swing the bats today,” Heller said. “Up and down the lineup guys were making impact. We had a lot of guys have good days with some clutch hits.”
The Mountain Hawks were able to tack on four runs in the fifth, one in the sixth, and two in the eighth. Senior RHP Drake Robison earned his first victory as a Hawkeye, tossing allowing five runs on six hits over six innings. He had nine strikeouts without issuing a walk.
McCoy (2-for-4, 3 runs, 2 RBIs), Neustrom (3-for-5, 2 runs, RBI), and Adams (3-for-5, 6 RBIs) all had multi-hit games.
The Hawkeyes closed out the doubleheader sweep by pounding out 18 hits in the nightcap. Six Iowa players had multi-hit games, including a 4-for-5, five RBI performance from Neustrom. Freshman Ben Norman finished 3-for-5, while Whelan (2-for-4), McCoy (2-for-4, two runs), Adams (2-for-5), and Boe (2-for-4, two runs) had two-hit games.
Iowa jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI single by Neustrom. The Mountain Hawks tied the game in the fourth on an RBI double by Connor Donovan.
The Hawkeyes took control with two runs in the fifth before scoring three runs in the seventh and single runs in the eighth and ninth. McCoy doubled home the go-ahead run in the fifth and Neustrom had a sacrifice fly to push the lead to 3-1.
Neustrom collected his third and fourth RBIs in the seventh with a two-run single, and he collected his fifth RBI with an RBI single in the eighth. Freshman Justin Jenkins doubled in Iowa’s final run in the ninth.
Sophomore Zach Daniels (2-1) picked up the win in relief. He tossed three shutout innings, allowing one hits and fanning four.
“Overall, it was a real positive day for us,” Heller said.
The Hawkeyes return to action Wednesday, hosting Iowa Wesleyan at 3:05 p.m. (CT) at Duane Banks Field.