IOWA CITY, Iowa – With the game tied at two, Illinois (18-19) scored four unanswered runs in the fifth inning to win the series finale, 6-2, and take the series over the University of Iowa baseball team (22-16) on Senior Day at Duane Banks Field.
“We got beat today,” said head coach Rick Heller. “They had a good day, they had 16 hits, but 10 or 12 were ground balls that found holes. We only had five free bases, so it’s not like we were giving them away. They had a good day.”
Illinois scored the game’s first runs in the top of the first and second to take a 2-0 lead, before Iowa bounced back with two runs of its own in the bottom of the third to tie the game at two.
After back-to-back singles by redshirt juniors Trenton Wallace and Dylan Nedved, redshirt junior Izaya Fullard came through with a two-out bloop single to center to drive in Iowa’s only runs of the game.
Redshirt junior Cam Baumann (4-5) started for the Hawkeyes on the mound and was chased from the game after 4 1/3 innings of work. The southpaw got Illinois’ Branden Comia to foul out to begin the inning, but two batters later, a two-run home run from Ryan Hampe gave Illinois a 4-2 lead.
Right-hander Drew Irvine relieved Baumann and surrendered two more runs on three hits and walk as Illinois led 6-2 halfway through five.
Iowa’s offense, who managed only five hits, couldn’t get anything going offensively after the third inning. Iowa had at least one baserunner in the three of the final four innings, but none were able to reach scoring position.
Redshirt senior Grant Leonard and Nedved pitched the final four innings out of the Iowa bullpen, allowing no runs and only two hits. The duo combined to record six strikeouts.
QUOTING HEAD COACH RICK HELLER
“They out-pitched us and out-hit us and for whatever reason our bats went cold. It’s strange because in baseball certain pitchers give you trouble, but it was still no excuse, we were not sharp offensively and you hate to see that happen, especially at this time of year. We had been going pretty good. Hopefully we can wipe it away, clean it up this week, get healthy and rested up and be ready to go this weekend.”
• Today marks Iowa’s only second series loss in its last eight weekends.
• Fullard extended his on-base streak to 21 games with his third-inning single. Redshirt senior Ben Norman’s 25-game on-base streak came to an end after an 0-for-4 day at the plate.
Iowa travels to Evanston, Illinois, for a three-game series next weekend. Friday’s series opener at 1 p.m. (CT) will be televised on Big Ten Network. Iowa is 2-0 against Northwestern this season.