IOWA CITY, Iowa – The University of Iowa baseball team scored eight runs in the fifth inning to fuel a 17-9 victory over No. 30 Nebraska on Saturday afternoon at Duane Banks Field. The Hawkeyes (23-14, 9-5) clinched their fourth straight Big Ten series win in front of a season-high 2,414 fans.
With the game tied at three after Nebraska hit back-to-back home runs in the top of the fifth, the Hawkeyes strung together seven two-out hits starting with senior Chris Whelan’s single to put an eight-spot up against the Cornhuskers.
After Whelan’s double, senior Mitchell Boe reached on a hit-by-pitch, which brought up junior catcher Austin Martin, who doubled to the center field warning track to drive in two runs.
Then, sophomore Izaya Fullard highlighted the two-out rally with a monster home run to center field to put the Hawkeyes ahead 7-3. It was Fullard’s third home run of the season and the baraage of hits had just begun.
“I’ve never been a part of a game or inning like that,” Fullard said. “Up-and-down the lineup, guys were barreling balls and finding holes. It was fun to be a part of.”
Fullard’s homer bounced Nebraska’s starting pitcher Nate Fisher, who sat down the first nine Iowa batters he faced.
“First time through the order, he got the best of us,” Fullard said. “We stuck to our approach. We had a good scouting report going into the game. We were confident in our at-bats and what he was going to do. That second and third time through the lineup we had a good idea that we were going to break it up soon.”
And the Hawkeyes did just that, scoring four runs on four consecutive hits from junior Ben Norman, senior Tanner Wetrich, junior Zeb Adreon, and redshirt freshman Connor McCaffery off Nebraska reliever Mike Waldron who failed to record an out.
Iowa’s eighth run of the inning came on a bases-loaded walk from Mitchell Boe. Iowa led 11-3 through five innings. In the sixth, Iowa added five more two-out runs.
With the bases loaded, junior Matthew Sosa doubled home Wetrich and Norman. Whelan then singled home Sosa before Boe launched a triple to right center field. The Hawkeyes led 16-4 through six innings.
Iowa’s first three runs came off the bat of Norman, who hit is team-leading sixth home run over the right center field wall. Norman and Fullard each finished with three RBIs, while Whelan went 4-for-5 with four singles.
It was starter Cam Baumann (3-2) who earned the win after going five innings, while allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits. Baumann finished the game with seven strikeouts.
QUOTING HEAD COACH RICK HELLER:
“Sometimes baseball is crazy. When a guy (Nate Fisher) is so good like that, you get anybody else out there and it just seems a little easier. We’ve been talking as a group that we felt like we’re on the verge of breaking out offensively. It happened in the fourth, fifth and sixth inning. To score eight runs with two outs – that doesn’t happen very often.
“(It was) a great crowd today. I appreciate all the Hawk fans coming out to support us. It was a wonderful day and a beautiful atmosphere – it couldn’t have been any better.”
- Wetrich extended his career-high and team-best hitting streak to nine games. Wetrich’s batting average is up to .274.
- Norman was a triple away from the cycle.
- Iowa’s 17 runs on 17 hits only trailed Iowa’s 18 runs and 19 hits versus Evansville on March 9.
- Iowa moves up to third in the Big Ten standings and is looking for its second sweep. The series win is Iowa’s third series win over a ranked opponent this season.
The Hawkeyes conclude their three-game series with the Cornhusksers tomorrow at 1:05 p.m. (CT) at Duane Banks Field.
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