CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The University of Iowa baseball team scored seven runs in the ninth inning, but it wasn’t enough as the Hawkeyes fell to 22nd-ranked Illinois, 13-12, on Saturday in game two of a three-game series at Illinois Field.
The Hawkeyes trailed 13-5 heading into the ninth inning before fighting back to close the gap to a single run. After senior Tyler Cropley and sophomore Kyle Crowl walked, Tanner Wetrich belted a three-run home run to make the score 13-8.
Sophomore Luke Farley started another rally with a triple to center field before scoring on a Zion Pettigrew RBI single to left field. Iowa loaded the bases on a Chris Whelan single and Robert Neustrom cut the deficit to 13-11 with an RBI single to left center.
Iowa scored its final run off sacrifice fly to left field from Cropley that scored Whelan, but Crowl struck out to end the Hawkeyes rally and the game.
Illinois built its lead early scoring one run in the second before erupting for nine in the third to take a 10-0 lead. The Hawkeyes started to fight back in the fourth with RBIs from Matt Hoeg and Justin Jenkins and Crowl and Wetrich had sacrifice flies in the fifth and Lorenzo Elion’s RBI single cut the lead in half.
Illinois tacked on its final three runs in the fifth and eighth innings. Michael Massey had an RBI triple in the fifth, and Bren Spillane hit a solo home run and Jack Yalowitz had RBI double in the eighth.
Iowa starter Brady Schanuel (4-3) suffered the loss, allowing six runs on seven hits in two innings.
QUOTING HEAD COACH RICK HELLER
“We didn’t quit today, we never felt like we were out of it even though we fell behind early. Brady didn’t give us the best start and didn’t have his best stuff. It was a bad day for that to happen. We ended up down 10 runs in the first three innings. I knew our guys wouldn’t stop fighting and we never felt out of it. Unfortunately, we gave up two runs in the eighth that proved to be the difference. We found a way to get close in the end.”
- Illinois out hit the Hawkeyes, 17-11. Whelan finished 2-for-4 for his fifth multi-hit game of the season. Luke Farley went 2-for-3 and Wetrich was 1-for-3 with four RBIs.
- Wetrich hit his first career home run, becoming the eighth different Hawkeye to hit a home run this season. Iowa has homered in six straight contests.
- Grant Judkins went 4 1/3 innings in relief — his longest outing this season.
- Neustrom went 1-for-6, but it extended his hitting streak to a season-high 10 games. He has also reached base in 14 straight contests. Crowl and Cropley have reached safely in 12 consecutive games.
The rubber game of the three-game series is set to begin at 2 p.m. (CT) Sunday. The game will be televised live on BTN.
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