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By AUSTIN BRAMLEY
EAST LANSING, Mich. — The University of Iowa baseball team led wire-to-wire, scoring three in the first and four in the ninth to post a 9-4 series-clinching victory over Michigan State on Sunday afternoon at McLane Baseball Stadium.
The win gives the Hawkeyes their fourth Big Ten series victory this season, improving the team’s league record to 11-7. Iowa is 29-17 overall.
“I’m proud of our guys,” said UI head coach Rick Heller.
Clinging to a 5-4 lead in the ninth, senior Mason McCoy had RBI single to knock in sophomore Mitchell Boe. After pinch runner Justin Jenkins scored on a wild pitch, junior Tyler Cropley kept the bats hot, sending an RBI single to left field to extend the lead to 8-4.
“It was another close game heading into the ninth,” Heller said. “It was good to see us break through and score some more runs.”
Designated hitter Grant Judkins capped off the four-run inning with an RBI single to right that plated sophomore Robert Neustrom.
The Hawkeyes got after the Spartans early, scoring three runs in the top of the first inning.
After sophomore Chris Whelan was plunked to leadoff the game, McCoy reached on an error by Michigan State shortstop Royce Ando, and junior Jake Adams followed with his 13th double of the year to give Iowa a 1-0 lead. Later in the inning, Cropley laced a two-run RBI single down the left field line to extend the Hawkeye lead to 3-0.
The Spartans made it a one-run game in the sixth when Dan Durkin had an RBI double to right, and he later scored on an RBI groundout by Ando.
Redshirt freshman Kyle Shimp (4-0) earned the victory, allowing one run on one hit over two innings. Senior Josh Martsching got the final six outs to earn his fifth save of the year, giving up just one hit in two shutout innings.
“Josh was great again today for us,” Heller said. “The defense was great all day for us as well.”
Michigan State starting pitcher Andrew Gonzalez (3-4) suffered the loss, giving up four runs on four hits in two innings of work.
Five Hawkeyes — Whelan (2-for-4), McCoy (2-for-4), Adams (3-for-5), Cropley (2-for-4), and Boe (2-for-3) — had multi-hit games. Cropley tied a career-high with four RBIs, while McCoy tied a career-best with four runs scored.
The Hawkeyes return to action Friday, hosting Ohio State in the first of a three-game weekend series. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. (CT).