By AUSTIN BRAMLEY
IOWA CITY, Iowa — A five-run eighth inning lifted the University of Iowa baseball team to a 7-2 series-clinching victory over Purdue on Sunday afternoon at Duane Banks Field. The Hawkeyes won 2-of-3 games to win their third straight Big Ten series dating back to last season.
“It was battle today. Every inning of this series was a battle,” said UI head coach Rick Heller, whose Hawkeyes improved to 13-9 overall and 2-1 in Big Ten play. “To come out today and get the series win was big for us.”
After battling to a 2-2 tie through 7 1/2 innings, the Hawkeyes struck for five runs to take control. Sophomore Luke Farley drew a pinch-hit, leadoff walk and pinch-runner Corbin Woods moved into scoring position on a Chris Whelan sacrifice bunt.
Following a one-out Mason McCoy walk, junior Jake Adams roped a single to left field, loading the bases for Robert Neustrom. The sophomore’s swinging bunt squirted under Purdue pitcher Nick Wojtysiak’s glove for an RBI single to give Iowa a 3-2 lead.
Freshman Ben Norman extended the lead with two-run single down the left field line and freshman Grant Judkins broke the game open, ripping a single to center field to push the advantage to 7-2.
“We knew we just needed to get on base,” said Norman, who was 2-for-4 with two RBIs. “Once that happened, we knew that the tide would turn, and we’d start getting base hits.”
Iowa scored single runs in the first and third innings. McCoy doubled to right center, picking up the first hit of the day before Adams singled to left center field, picking up his 30th RBI of the season.
After Purdue tied the game in the top of the third, Whelan doubled down the left field line to start the Iowa rally before Neustrom had an RBI triple — his first of the season — to left center field to give the Hawkeyes a 2-1 lead.
“The at-bats we had and the way the guys were seeing the ball was a lot like yesterday,” Heller said. “If we just stuck with the plan, we’d finally break through.”
Sophomore Cole McDonald gave up one run on one hit in his fifth start of the season. He struck out two batters in 2 2/3 innings of work before exiting the game early due to hand injury. Senior Drake Robison tossed 2 1/3 innings, giving up one run on four hits, and senior Josh Martsching pitched an inning, striking out a pair to get out of a sixth-inning jam.
Sophomore Kyle Shimp (2-0) earned the win, allowing one hit and fanning three in two shutout innings. Sophomore Shane Ritter got the final three outs to complete the game for the second time in as many games.
Wojtysiak (0-1) suffered the loss, giving up five runs on three hits in 1 1/3 innings of relief.
Whelan (2-for-3), Adams (2-for-3), Neustrom (2-for-4) and Norman (2-for-4) accounted for eight of Iowa’s 10 hits with all four players posting multi-hit games. Neustrom, Norman, and Judkins each had two RBIs.
The Hawkeyes continue their home stand Wednesday, hosting Grand View at 4:05 p.m. (CT).