MINNEAPOLIS — Junior Cole McDonald allowed one run on four hits over seven innings to lead the University of Iowa baseball team to a 5-3 victory over No. 25 Minnesota on Sunday afternoon at Siebert Field.
The win allowed the Hawkeyes to avoid a weekend sweep and it moves Iowa’s record to 23-13 overall, 7-6 in Big Ten play.
“I am proud of our team after a couple of tough days where you felt like you played good baseball, pitched well and kept a good offense down,” said Iowa head coach Rick Heller. “We just didn’t find a way to get the win. The guys came out today with a professional, mature effort and Cole set the tone on the mound. He was outstanding.”
McDonald (3-1) struck out seven, recording his third straight quality start en route to his third victory of the season. The right-hander was perfect through three innings before giving up a leadoff single in the fourth. The Gophers scored their only run in the fifth and McDonald buckled down, striking out Alex Boxwell swinging with the bases loaded to end his day.
“Cole gave us exactly what we needed, a long, quality start,” said Heller. “He had really good stuff today. His last two have been outstanding.”
The Hawkeyes broke onto the scoreboard in the fourth when senior Tyler Cropley singled with one out. He scored on a fielding error by Gopher left fielder Ben Mezzenga.
Iowa pushed two more runs across in the fifth when Justin Jenkins and Tanner Wetrich led off the inning with back-to-back base hits and they both moved up a bag on a balk by starting pitcher Sam Thoresen.
The Hawkeyes stretched the lead to 3-0 on back-to-back RBI groundouts from Mitchell Boe and Chris Whelan.
After Minnesota closed the gap to 3-1 on Boxwell’s sacrifice fly in the fifth, Cropley doubled to start the sixth and he scored on a two-out RBI single from Kyle Crowl. Whelan hit a two-out, solo home run to left field in the seventh, pushing the Hawkeye advantage to 5-1.
Minnesota closed the gap in the eighth, scoring two runs against Iowa reliever Zach Daniels. The Gophers got an RBI double from Mezzenga and Eli Wilson had a sacrifice fly. Daniels pitched around a one-out error in the ninth.
QUOTING COACH HELLER
“This was a big game for us before heading home for a big home stretch. We needed that one today and the guys gave great effort and found a way to get it done.
“This says a lot about this team and how their approach is in a professional way. You can’t do anything about yesterday, you have to come out and give a great effort today and all you have to do is play your best.”
- Iowa out-hit the Gophers, 8-5, in the victory. Tyler Cropley (2-for-4, 2 R) and Chris Whelan (2-for-4, R, 2 RBIs) had two-hit games. Cropley hit his team-leading 15th double, while Whelan’s home run was his second of the season.
- The Hawkeye victory snapped Minnesota’s nine-game winning streak.
- The win was Iowa’s fourth over a ranked opponent this season. The Hawkeyes are 4-7 in games against top-25 opponents.
The Hawkeyes return to action Wednesday, hosting Milwaukee at 6:05 p.m. (CT) at Duane Banks Field before welcoming Michigan to Iowa City for a three-game series from April 27-29. The Wolverines have won 20 straight games.
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