BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — In a pitcher’s duel that featured 23 total strikeouts, the University of Iowa baseball team came up short, 3-2, in the Big Ten Conference opener at Indiana at Bart Kaufman Field.
The Hawkeyes fought back to tie the game with two runs in the top of the ninth inning, but the Hoosiers won via a walk-off infield single in the bottom of the inning.
Senior starter Cole McDonald had his best pitching performance of the season. McDonald’s career day started in the first inning when he struck out the side after allowing the leadoff man to reach.
In seven innings of work, the New Hampton, Iowa, native recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts, which tied junior starting pitcher Grant Judkins for the most in a game this season. McDonald recorded a strikeout in every inning, sat down seven Indiana batters looking, and retired the final seven Hoosiers he faced.
McDonald’s first blemish came in the second inning when Cole Barr — the Big Ten’s leader in home runs — hit a solo home run to right field that carried over the fence with the help of the wind. Indiana added another run in the fifth and led 2-0 from the fifth inning to the ninth.
Indiana’s starting pitcher Pauly Milto was just as good, going 8 1/3 innings and finishing with 10 strikeouts. Milto stifled Iowa’s offense for most of the night, but the Hawkeyes forced Indiana to go to the bullpen in the ninth inning after the bases were loaded.
Senior Mitchell Boe and junior Ben Norman had back-to-back singles, and sophomore Izaya Fullard reached on a hit-by-pitch. Boe then scored on a wild pitch and Norman tied the game on a sacrifice fly from junior Austin Martin.
Iowa couldn’t do any more damage as junior Grant Judkins and senior Tanner Wetrich couldn’t drive in the go-ahead run.
Redshirt junior Grant Leonard came in for the ninth to preserve the tie. After retiring the leadoff man, Leonard issued a one-out walk to Barr who came around to score from second with two outs on a walk-off infield single by Logan Kaletha.
Boe slid to make the diving play in short right field, but didn’t have enough time to get the out at first base or at the plate.
QUOTING HEAD COACH RICK HELLER
“It was a tough one to swallow. Our guys showed a lot of fight. It was intense, like a Friday night game should be. We had a tremendous start out of Cole McDonald. He pitched fantastic tonight, which was good to see as we head into the Big Ten.
“It’s tough, especially when you get walked-off, it’s no fun. Tip your hat, Indiana played well. They’re a good team. Pauly Milto pitched well tonight. We didn’t have an answer for him. It’s one of those tough games, but just wipe it away, get up tomorrow, and do it again.”
- With two singles in the first and fourth inning, Martin registered his team-leading ninth multi-hit game of the season. It’s the third time this season Martin has registered back-to-back multi-hit games.
- Freshman Drew Irvine pitched a scoreless eighth inning, improving his ERA to 1.35 over 6 2/3 innings.
- Five of McDonald’s strikeouts came against the top four hitters of Indiana’s lineup.
First pitch for tomorrow’s game two will be at 1:05 p.m. (CT). Cam Baumann (0-1, 5.12 ERA) will start for Iowa versus Indiana’s Tanner Gordon (1-3, 4.74 ERA).
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