By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa baseball team pounded out 15 hits en route to a 9-5 series-opening victory over Ohio State on Friday night in front of a season-high 1,383 fans at Duane Banks Field. The win gives the Hawkeyes their fourth straight 30-win season.
Iowa is 30-17 overall and 12-7 in the Big Ten Conference — two games back of league-leading Maryland.
“We ended up making this game closer than it should have been, but we strung good at-bats up-and- down the lineup,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “It was a good way to start the weekend; I was happy with the way we came out and played.”
The Hawkeyes trailed 1-0 through two innings before scoring in their final six frames, including three in the fifth and two in the eighth. Iowa’s 15 hits are the most for the team since March 25 against Purdue.
Junior Nick Gallagher (7-1) went seven innings to notch his seventh victory of the season. The right-hander allowed two runs on 10 hits and struck out nine (to one walk) for his eighth quality start of the season. He is 4-0 with a 1.87 ERA in Big Ten play.
“I felt like I had pretty good stuff, but I wasn’t executing my pitches as well as I wanted to,” said Gallagher. “I got a lot of ground balls and they had a lot of ground ball hits and some hits that some days wouldn’t fall.
“I also had some balls that found gloves. It was one of those games where you knew it would be tough. They always battle; I had to continue to battle and the offense would pick me up.”
Ohio State manufactured a run in the second, taking a 1-0 lead on a safety squeeze from Jacob Barnwell. Junior Jake Adams gave the Hawkeye offense a lift in the third, hitting a solo home run off the batter’s eye in center field for his 17th home run of the season. The ball traveled 411 feet.
“At that point in the game, Jake’s home run was big,” said Heller. “You don’t see many balls get out of there up against the batter’s eye here and the wind was blowing in a little bit. It was good to see him hit the ball tonight, like he has all year.”
Iowa took the lead with a two-out rally in the fourth when Ben Norman reached on a two-out single, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and scored on an Ohio State fielding error by shortstop Jalen Washington. The Hawkeyes followed with a three-run fifth.
After senior Mason McCoy walked and Adams singled to start the inning, sophomore Robert Neustrom’s RBI single gave Iowa a 3-1 lead. Adams scored on a balk by Thomas Waning and Matt Hoeg drove in the third run, reaching on a fielder’s choice.
Ohio State cut its deficit to 5-2 on a solo home run from Barnwell in the top of the sixth, before the Hawkeyes answered. Iowa loaded the bases in the bottom half before scoring on a double play ball off the bat of Adams to make the score 6-2.
Junior Tyler Cropley doubled to start the seventh and scored on a Hoeg double to the warning track in right field to make the score 7-2, and Iowa got RBIs from Neustrom and Cropley in the eighth inning to stretch its advantage to 9-2.
The Buckeyes got to reliever Kyle Shimp in the ninth when Washington connected on a three-run home run to left field. Junior Nick Nelsen got the final out, striking out Noah McGowan to end the game.
Four Hawkeyes — Chris Whelan (3-for-5), Adams (3-for-5, 3 runs, 1 RBI), Cropley (2-for-4, 1 run, 1 RBI), and Hoeg (2-for-4, 2 RBIs) had multi-hit games. Neustrom and Hoeg had two RBIs apiece, while McCoy extended his reached base streak to 21 games.
Game two of the series will begin at 2:05 p.m. (CT) Saturday.