By AUSTIN BRAMLEY
IOWA CITY, Iowa – The University of Iowa baseball team erupted for nine runs over its final two innings to post a 9-1 victory and complete a three-game weekend sweep of Penn State on Saturday night at Duane Banks Field.
The Hawkeyes improve to 27-15 overall — a season-best 12 games over .500 — and 9-6 in Big Ten play. It was Iowa’s second sweep of the season (UNLV).
“This gives us a huge boost,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “It looked like we were dead in the water tonight, but late in the game guys clutched up and we scored some runs.”
Trailing 1-0 in the seventh, junior Jake Adams sparked the rally by crushing a solo home run to left field to tie the game at one. The hitting continued as sophomore Robert Neustrom doubled to right center, and back-to-back walks by Junior Tyler Cropley and sophomore Luke Farley loaded the bases.
Matt Hoeg drove in the go-ahead run on a two-run single to left field that slipped under Penn State left fielder Nick Riotto’s glove and rolled all the way to the wall, allowing Farley to score all the way from first to make the score 4-1.
“Earlier in the game I had an opportunity to drive in some runs and didn’t get it done,” said Hoeg. “When the opportunity arose I was going to do whatever it took to get the guys in.”
Adams continued his production in the eighth inning with an RBI double to left field, and Neustrom had an RBI single to through the left side to make the score 7-1. Cropley followed with a two-run bomb to left field, giving Iowa a 9-1 lead.
“The guys stuck with the plan and kept fighting,” Heller said. “We were able to get deep into their bullpen and our guys delivered on some clutch hits.”
Penn State’s only run came in the fifth, when Riotto singled to right field, scoring senior Christian Helsel to give the Nittany Lions a 1-0 lead.
Sophomore Zach Daniels (7-2) went 2 1/3 innings to earn his seventh victory of the season. He didn’t allow a hit in the outing and fanned three. Junior Elijah Wood started the game, scattering seven hits over 3 1/3 innings.
“I was pleased with our pitching tonight,” Heller said. “Elijah gave up some hits, but he made pitches when he had to.”
Penn State’s Cole Barlets (0-2) suffered the loss, giving up four runs on three hits in just 1 2/3 innings.
Five different Hawkeyes had multi-hit games — Ben Norman (2-for-4), Adams (2-for-5), Neustrom (3-for-5), Cropley-2-for-3), and Hoeg (2-for-3) — in a 12 hit night. Adams, Cropley and Hoeg each had two RBIs.
Iowa returns to action Tuesday, traveling to Western Illinois for a midweek matchup. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. (CT).