By AUSTIN BRAMLEY
IOWA CITY, Iowa – The University of Iowa baseball team gave up a season-high 13 runs in a 13-5 loss to Rutgers in the rubber match of the three-game series Sunday afternoon at Duane Banks Field. The Scarlet Knights handed the Hawkeyes their first Big Ten Conference home series loss this season.
“It was just a bad day,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “The pitching wasn’t good. We tried to fight back offensively in the middle innings, but couldn’t get it done.”
Rutgers scored early and often, plating three runs in the first and five runs in the third inning. After sophomore Jawuan Harris lead the game off with a walk, he stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch from Hawkeye starting pitcher Cole McDonald.
The Scarlet Knights scored the game’s first 10 runs over the first four frames.
“The pitching in the early innings didn’t give us a chance,” Heller said. “Giving up eight runs in the first three innings and all the free bases just wasn’t good.”
Iowa cut into a 10-0 deficit when sophomore Matt Hoeg sent a two-run home run over the left field wall that knocked in pinch hitter Grant Judkins, who walked earlier in the inning.
After giving up three runs in the top of the fifth, the Hawkeyes got them back in the fifth inning. Back-to-back hits by sophomore Chris Whelan and senior Mason McCoy, and a walk by junior Jake Adams loaded the bases. Sophomore Robert Neustrom followed with a bases-clearing double to left center that made the score 13-5.
McDonald (2-3) suffered the loss, giving up four runs on two hits and walking four. He faced 16 batters in two innings of work.
Sophomores Sammy Lizarraga and Shane Ritter pitched a combined five shutout innings. Lizarraga scattered three hits over three innings, while Ritter pitched the final two innings, allowing three hits.
Rutgers starter John O’Reilly (4-5) earned the victory, giving up five runs on six hits over five innings.
Whelan and McCoy had four of Iowa’s six hits, both posting multi-hit games. Whelan was 2-for-4, while McCoy finished 2-for-3. Neustrom had three RBIs.
Iowa (23-15, 6-6) returns to action Tuesday, hosting Milwaukee at 6:05 p.m. (CT) at Duane Banks Field.