Evanston, Ill. – The University of Iowa’s offense scored five runs in the second and seven in the eighth and junior Nick Gallagher pitched seven shutout innings to send the Hawkeyes to a 14-2 pounding of Northwestern in Friday’s series opener at Rocky Miller Park.
The win extends Iowa’s winning streak to eight games and moves the team’s record to 19-9 overall and 3-1 in Big Ten action.
The Hawkeyes took advantage of free bases in the second inning to plate five runs on just a single hit. After back-to-back walks by Ben Norman and Tyler Cropley rattled Northwestern starting pitcher Tommy Bordignon, junior Austin Guzzo sacrificed both runners into scoring position. Bordignon proceeded to walk Matt Hoeg to load the bases and he hit sophomore Chris Whelan to give the Hawkeyes a 1-0 lead.
A Bordignon wild pitch on ball four to senior Mason McCoy allowed two Hawkeye runs to score before junior Jake Adams doubled to left center field to make the score 5-0. It was the Brandon, South Dakota, native’s sixth double of the year.
“The free bases were the story of this game,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “In the second inning, we scored five runs on only one hit and gave Nick Gallagher a nice lead.”
Iowa plated two more runs in the fifth on a McCoy solo home run and an RBI single from Ben Norman before putting the game away with a seven-run eighth. The Hawkeyes batted around, sending 13 batters to the plate to extend their lead to 14-0.
Junior Matt Hoeg had an RBI double to left center, McCoy drove in his third and fourth runs with a two-run double to left center, and Robert Neustrom drew a bases loaded walk to make the score 10-0. Northwestern reliever JR Reimer then walked four with the bases loaded to push the lead to 14-0.
Gallagher (4-1) didn’t need much assistance. The right-hander tallied his fifth quality start of the season, scattering three hits and fanning five in seven shutout innings to record his second straight win.
“Nick had another quality start,” Heller said. “He gave us exactly what we needed on a Friday night.”
The Wildcats used four pitchers on the day, giving up 13 hits and 12 free bases. Bordignon (0-3) suffered the loss, giving up five runs on two hits in two innings of work.
Four Hawkeyes — McCoy (3-for-5, 3 R, 4 RBIs), Adams (2-for-5), Neustrom (2-for-5), and Hoeg (2-for-3) — accounted for nine of Iowa’s 13 hits. McCoy (4), Adams (2), Norman (2), Hoeg (2) each had multiple-RBI games.
“This was a little different Friday night game than we expected, but we can’t let it put us to sleep,” said Heller. “We know they are going to come out and fight hard tomorrow.”
Game two of the series is set for 2 p.m. (CT) Saturday.