By JAMES ALLAN
HONOLULU, Hawaii — The University of Iowa baseball team took a 2-1 series lead with a doubleheader sweep of Hawaii on Saturday at Les Murakami Stadium. The Hawkeyes rallied from a 7-3 deficit to win game one, 10-8, before taking the nightcap, 6-4.
“It shows a lot about their toughness,” said Iowa head coach Rick Heller of the sweep. “It was ugly at times and we had to overcome a lot of things, but we found a way, guys stepped up when they needed to. To come out with two wins today, it gives us a chance to win the series tomorrow. It was outstanding.”
Iowa is 4-2 overall heading into Sunday’s series finale.
GAME 1 | Iowa 10, Hawaii 8
The Hawkeyes evened the series with their offense, scoring a season-high 10 runs on 14 hits in game one. Five different players tallied multi-hit games in the 10-8 victory.
Hawaii jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first against Iowa starter Jack Dreyer before the Hawkeyes put up a three spot in the third to take a 3-2 lead. Senior Tanner Wetrich and sophomore Tanner Padgett had RBIs in the inning and Iowa took advantage of two Hawaii errors.
The Rainbow Warriors regained the lead in the bottom half, plating up five runs against Iowa freshman Duncan Davitt courtesy of two walks, a hit by pitch, a Hawkeye error, and two hits. Travis Best doubled in two runs in the inning before Iowa went to reliever Trace Hoffman, who settled things down.
Hoffman (1-0) retired the first 10 batters he faced and he pitched scoreless 3 2/3 innings, surrendering one hit, to earn his first career victory. Redshirt junior Kyle Shimp tossed a scoreless seventh before senior Jason Foster allowed one run on two hits over the final two innings to notch his first save.
“You have to come in and throw strikes and do everything you can to stop the bleeding and minimize the damage they had,” said Hoffman. “I try to do my best, limit damage and get out of it as fast as possible.”
Iowa tied the game at seven with a four-run fourth and took the lead with a three-run seventh. Junior Justin Jenkins had an RBI bunt single and sophomore Izaya Fullard hit a two-run double down the right field line to close the gap to 7-6. Junior Ben Norman tied the game with an RBI groundout.
In the seventh, Padgett started Iowa’s rally with a one-out walk before pinch runner Matt Berst stole second and scored on a double from junior Austin Martin. Two more runs scored on RBI singles from Zeb Adreon and Jenkins.
Martin (3-for-5, 2B, R, RBI) and Adreon (3-for-5, 2 R, RBI) both tallied their first career three-hit games. Fullard (2-for-5, 2B, 2 RBIs), Wetrich (2-for-5, R, RBI, SB), and Jenkins (2-for-4, 2 RBIs, SB) all had two-hit contests.
QUOTING HEAD COACH RICK HELLER
“We fell behind in both games and we battled. We overcame a lot in game one. Things didn’t go our way, we had to go to bullpen early and guys stepped up in the bullpen. Kyle Shimp was good, Trace was outstanding, and Foster closed it out after we rallied.
“It was good to see us hit up-and-down the lineup, it took a while. We were slow starting out.”
GAME 2 | Iowa 6, Hawaii 2
Senior Tanner Wetrich hit a grand slam and the Hawkeye pitching staff came up big late, sending Iowa to a 6-4 victory to complete the Saturday sweep.
The Rainbow Warriors jumped out to an early lead for a third straight game, plating two runs in the second inning against Iowa starter Cam Baumann. The Hawkeyes needed one swing of the bat to take the lead in the third.
Iowa loaded the bases with a two-out rally following a Justin Jenkins walk, Mitchell Boe single, and an Izaya Fullard walk. Wetrich belted a 1-2 pitch from Hawaii starter Li’I Pontes over the fence in left field for a grand slam to give the Hawkeyes a 4-2 lead. It was Wetrich’s second home run of the season.
“I have never hit a grand slam in my career,” said Wetrich. “It’s tough to get one out of this park, but I happened to get a barrel on it and it went.”
Baumann pitched around two walks in the third, two in the fourth, and one in the fifth before being pulled with nobody out. Freshman Drew Irvine (1-0) followed with two scoreless innings to notch his first career win. Iowa used six relievers in the game.
The Hawkeyes added two insurance runs in the eighth. Sophomore Tanner Padgett and junior Austin Martin had back-to-back singles before a double steal moved pinch runner Matt Berst and Martin into scoring position. With two outs, junior Zeb Adreon delivered, singling in two runs to stretch Iowa’s lead to 6-2.
Hawaii rallied in the eighth, getting the two runs back on an RBI single from Alex Baeza and an RBI triple from Scotty Scott to cut the lead to 6-4. After the Rainbow Warriors loaded the bases with two outs, Iowa went to redshirt junior Grant Leonard — the team’s fifth pitcher of the inning — to face Adam Fogel.
Leonard froze Hawaii’s clean-up hitter to get the Hawkeyes out of the eighth before pitching a 1-2-3 ninth to notch his first save of the season.
“My mindset is I am the best pitcher in the world, nobody can beat me, I have the best stuff out there,” said Leonard. “I have to have that confidence every time and when I do that I feel great. I threw a change-up away, it was a little unorthodox, but it got the job done.”
Senior Mitchell Boe finished with two of Iowa’s six hits, finishing 2-for-4 with one run. Wetrich (4 RBIs) and Adreon (2 RBIs) drove in all six of Iowa’s runs.
“When things are going tough, you need somebody to step up,” said Wetrich. “I happened to be that guy today and there will be somebody tomorrow and somebody the next day. That’s how our team works, when one guy struggles, somebody picks him up.”
QUOTING HEAD COACH RICK HELLER
“In game two, we came out and Cam toughed it out. He wasn’t on, he was out of rhythm, but he battled and logged some innings. Drew did a great job, giving us two quality innings and we tried to bring guys back that didn’t throw many pitches in game one, but that didn’t work out too well.
“Leonard came in and was lights out. It wasn’t clean on the mound in game two, you don’t win many when you walk that many, but the guys fought on a long, hot day. I am proud of our team.”
- It is Iowa’s first true road doubleheader sweep since March 7, 2015, at Middle Tennessee State.
- Freshman Brendan Sher made his first career start in game two, starting at third base.
- Iowa out-hit Hawaii, 20-14, in the doubleheader.
- Senior Chris Whelan didn’t play after being injured in Friday night’s series opener.
- Senior Tanner Wetrich has hit safely in five of six games this season, while senior Mitchell Boe and sophomore Izaya Fullard extended their reached base streaks to six games.
The Hawkeyes close out the four-game series Sunday beginning at 5:05 p.m. (CT). Junior RHP Grant Judkins will take the mound for his second start.