IOWA CITY, Iowa — One run was enough for the University of Iowa baseball team, who shutout 18th-ranked UC Irvine, 1-0, on Saturday afternoon at Duane Banks Field.
The Hawkeyes improve to 29-16 on the season and 18-4 at home, while the Anteaters fall to 28-12.
“We’re playing with a ton of confidence,” said closer Grant Leonard, who notched his 12th save. “It was great to get this one in front of our home crowd. We’re playing really good right now at a perfect time. It’s fun to be around here.”
In the fifth inning, Iowa pushed across the game’s only run after redshirt sophomore Tanner Padgett doubled with one out on a ball UC Irvine right fielder Konnor Zickefoose lost in the sun. It was Iowa’s first hit of the game against starter Trenton Denholm, who threw a complete game, spanning eight innings with eight strikeouts.
Senior Tanner Wetrich then drove in the game-winning run on a line drive up the middle that deflected off of Denholm’s throwing hand. Wetrich beat the throw out and it was enough for the Hawkeye pitchers, who didn’t allow a hit or run in the final four innings.
“For Tanner to step up and deliver there was huge,” said Iowa head coach Rick Heller.
In the top half of the fifth, the Hawkeyes turned an unconventional 6-5-4-3 double play to preserve a 0-0 tie. UC Irvine left 10 runners on base for the game.
Senior Jason Foster relieved starter Cam Baumann, who scattered seven hits over five innings to earn the win, in the sixth inning with two runners on. Foster didn’t allow either inherited runner to score, retiring all three batters he faced in the sixth.
Foster’s seventh was just as dominant, going 1-2-3 against UC Irvine’s top of the order. The Hawkeyes called upon Leonard for the final two innings. He faced six batters, allowing only one to reach on a fielding error. The right-hander from Mokena, Illinois, struck out leadoff batter Mike Peabody — one of this three K’s — to end the game and record his first six-out save of the season.
“It felt good to get in there and get six outs,” said Leonard. “My arm is in a great spot right now, so I was able to do it.”
Leonard’s 12th save of the season is only behind Kevin Lee’s 13 in 2010 for the most in a single season in Hawkeye history.
QUOTING HEAD COACH RICK HELLER
“Sometimes you have to find a way to get it done and today was one of those days. Cam (Baumann) worked out of some jams all day long and showed a lot of toughness. To me, the big key was Jason Foster coming in and bridging before we could go to Leonard. He did an outstanding job and that’s great to see as we head down the stretch.
“Hopefully we can come out tomorrow and play well like we’ve been doing. If we get another one, that’d be great. If not, then we have to keep playing well and giving our self a chance to win.”
- Iowa’s six straight series wins are the most since 2015.
- Today was Iowa’s first shutout win since game two of the season — a 10-0 victory over Pittsburgh.
- Baumann improved to 4-2 this season, winning two of his last three starts.
Sunday’s series finale is set for a 1:05 p.m. (CT) first pitch with junior Grant Judkins (4-5, 2.11 ERA) toeing the rubber.
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