IOWA CITY, Iowa — Bottom of the order production led the University of Iowa baseball team to win No. 20 — a 4-1 victory over Western Illinois on Tuesday night at Duane Banks field.
The Hawkeyes are 20-11 overall heading into a three-game weekend series at Nebraska.
“It was good to get the week started the right way, especially after a tough weekend,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “The guys came to the park with a good attitude, energy, and a pop in their step.
“It wasn’t a great day offensively, but it was enough to get it done.”
The Hawkeyes used a one-out rally in the second to get on the scoreboard first. Junior Austin Guzzo singled and junior Matt Hoeg doubled to left center to put two runners in scoring position. Sophomore Mitchell Boe’s sacrifice fly to right field gave Iowa a 1-0 lead.
Iowa added two runs in the fourth on a Guzzo RBI single to left field to knock in Ben Norman, who walked and stole second — his 10th stolen base of the year. Hoeg followed with a sacrifice fly, stretching the lead to 3-0.
The Hawkeyes gave up their lone run in the fifth when Western Illinois strung together four hits against reliever Grant Judkins, but Iowa got the run back in the sixth on Hoeg’s RBI groundout. Junior Tyler Cropley doubled down the left field line to start the inning.
Senior Drake Robison (2-2) earned the victory, tossing three shutout innings. He allowed four hits and had three strikeouts. Junior Elijah Wood was solid in his first start, allowing two hits in three innings. Sophomore Shane Ritter got the final three outs for his third save of the year.
“The pitching tonight was good,” said Heller. “We got a good start out of Elijah in his first start. It was a pitching, defense, night. We played clean baseball.”
Guzzo and senior Mason McCoy accounted for four of Iowa’s seven hits in the game. Guzzo was 2-for-3 with two RBIs, while McCoy was 2-for-4. Hoeg finished 1-for-2 with two RBIs.
“The bottom of our order drove in all the runs,” said Heller. “It was good to see with a couple of guys at top not having great nights.”
Iowa returns to action Friday in Lincoln. First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m. (CT).