IOWA CITY, Iowa — Four eighth-inning runs on two hits and four walks, propelled the University of Iowa baseball team to its first Big Ten win — an 8-4 victory over No. 23 Illinois on Friday afternoon at Duane Banks Field.
The Hawkeyes pounded out 13 hits and were led by senior Mitchell Boe (3-for-5 with three runs) and junior Austin Martin (3-for-3 with 2 RBIs), while all eight of Iowa’s runs were scored with two outs.
“Two-out hitting is huge,” Martin said. “A lot of times it can determine who wins and loses games, but today we did a good job of staying with our approach and trusting what we’ve been doing all offseason.”
Senior Chris Whelan, who scored the game-tying run in the seventh and had the game-winning RBI in the eighth, was the spark plug for Iowa late in the game.
Whelan doubled to deep left center in the seventh and came around to score on a pinch-hit single by Trenton Wallace to tie the game at four. In the bottom of the eighth, Whelan drew a full-count, bases-loaded walk to put the Hawkeyes on top 5-4.
Following Whelan’s walk, pinch-hitter Grant Judkins found some green in centerfield on a bloop single that scored two more Hawkeye runs. Senior Justin Jenkins completed Iowa’s four-run eighth inning with another bases loaded walk to push the lead to 8-4.
Illinois’ pitchers walked four — two intentionally — in the eighth.
Redshirt junior Grant Leonard (2-1), who relieved freshman Drew Irvine in the seventh inning, pitched 1 1/3 innings to earn the win.
Starting pitcher Cole McDonald allowed four runs in six innings on eight hits and three walks. Iowa had built a 3-0 through four innings with two runs in the third and one in the fourth, but Illinois quickly answered scoring one run in the fifth and three in the sixth that put an end to McDonald’s day. Six of McDonald’s eight hits were surrendered in his final two innings of work.
Trailing 4-3 after six innings, Iowa scored the final five runs of the game to secure its eighth comeback win of the season.
“This team fights,” Boe said. “On this field, it’s tough to beat us. (After being swept last weekend at Indiana). We were going to go out and bounce back. We knew that was a good team. The way that we responded was big for us and it was awesome.”
QUOTING HEAD COACH RICK HELLER
“Guys talked a lot about going out, having fun, and playing hard and stop living and dying with every pitch. That’s generally what happens when you’re trying too hard. All you can is do is play hard and try to have fun and usually good things will happen. I’m glad we got to see the results today.
“The plan we had today for (Andy) Fisher today was solid as long as we executed and the guys did. He’s a tough guy to get to and our guys stuck to the plan and got him out of the game fairly early, which was big.”
- Today’s win marked the third win over a top-25 opponent and 11th since the start of the 2018 season.
- Martin reached base in all five of his plate appearances and had three hits in his first three at-bats to record his team-leading 11th multi-hit game of the season. It’s the third time this season Martin has had three or more hits in one game.
- Pinch-hitters Trenton Wallace and Grant Judkins stepped up big, combining for two hits and three RBIs.
Game two of the series is tomorrow at 2:05 p.m. (CT) at Duane Banks Field. Sophomore Cam Baumann (0-2, 6.23) will get the nod for the Hawkeyes
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