Hawkeyes Split with Gamecocks on Saturday

JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – The University of Iowa baseball team split the opening two games of the series with Jacksonville State on Saturday, dropping the opener, 5-4, and winning the nightcap, 20-1.

Friday’s opener was suspended due to rain in the fifth inning, with Iowa holding a 4-0 lead. The Gamecocks would score the final five runs, including a walk-off pinch-hit three-run home run.

“In game one, we blew a 4-0 lead,” head coach Rick Heller said. “Our offense had the bases loaded in the 6th and didn’t score. After that, we didn’t threaten the rest of the game. The Gamecocks shut us out the final four innings and we only had one hit. That one really hurt.”

Brody Brecht started the opener before the delay on Friday, dealing four scoreless innings and striking out nine of the 18 batters he faced. Brecht allowed one hit in the outing. Rain moved into the area in the middle of the fifth, ending Brecht’s day.

Iowa got out to a 4-0 lead, scoring singular runs in the second and third innings and adding two more in the fifth. The game resumed on Saturday afternoon in the bottom of the fifth. Anthony Watts entered in relief and threw two innings, allowing one run on three hits and striking out four. Aaron Savary followed, striking out four batters in two innings.

In the ninth inning, the Gamecocks got two runners on via a single and a catcher’s interference call. Pinch-hitter Hudson Walburn hit a game-winning three-run home run over the left field wall. Sam Hart was credited with the loss.

After a quick turnaround, Cade Obermueller set the tone in game two, firing a career-high 5 2/3 innings. Obermueller earned the win, striking out a career-high nine batters while not allowing a Gamecock hit until the sixth inning. Jack Young, Chas Wheatley, Reece Beuter and Ganon Archer combined to allow just three hits out of the Iowa bullpen. Iowa’s staff struck out 15 Jacksonville State batters, while only issuing four walks.

“I’m happy with how we bounced back in game two,” Heller said. “Cade (Obermueller) went 5 2/3 innings and took a no-hitter into the sixth. He really set the tone for us. Cade pitched great when we needed him. The bullpen threw well with Jack Young, Chas Wheatley, Reece Bueter and Ganon Archer. The offense broke out with 20 runs on 19 hits. We scored in eight of nine innings. Kyle Huckstorf had a huge game, going 5-for-5 with two home runs, a triple and five runs scored.”

The Hawkeyes exploded for 20 runs on 19 hits in game two. It’s the second time this season Iowa has scored 20 runs. The Hawkeyes were led by Kyle Huckstorf, who drove in five runs, scored five and clubbed two home runs. Huckstorf became Iowa’s first player to hit two home runs since Brennen Dorighi on May 13, 2023, against Michigan State. The five runs scored are the most by a Hawkeye since Ben Norman crossed the plate five times against Georgetown on March 7, 2020.

As a team, Iowa hit six home runs, the most since the Hawkeyes hit five against Indiana on May 19, 2022. Reese Moore launched a 473-foot home run and was joined by Sam Petersen, Ben Wilmes and Merrick Mathews, along with Huckstorf’s two, to set the new program high. Mathews home run was the first of his career.

Blake Guerin, Michael Seegers and Petersen collected three hits. Ben Swails, Guerin, Huckstorf, Mathews and Wilmes had multi-run games. 12 of Iowa’s 19 hits were extra base hits.

“We need to come out and set the tone tomorrow like we did in game two,” said Heller. “I’m hoping we can start stringing some well-played games together.”

The Hawkeyes go for the series win in the finale on Sunday, with first pitch slated for 1:00 p.m. (CT) against the Gamecocks. The game will be streamed on ESPN+ and broadcast on the Hawkeye Radio Network.