KISSIMMEE, Fla. — George Mason used two big innings to hand the University of Iowa baseball team a 7-2 loss in its season opener at the Diamond 9 Sunshine State Classic on Friday morning at Osceola Hertitage Park Stadium.
The Hawkeyes trailed 4-2 through 6 1/2 innings before the Patriots put the game away against the Iowa bullpen with a three-run seventh.
George Mason scored the first three runs in the bottom of the third with two outs to take control. Leadoff hitter Brady Acker laid down a bunt single before scoring on a Daniel Brooks triple to right center field, making the score 1-0.
Logan Driscoll, the Atlantic 10 Preseason Player of the Year, followed with a two-run homer to straight away center field to put the Patriots up 3-0.
Sophomore Izaya Fullard and redshirt senior Chris Whelan had back-to-back singles in the top of the fourth, putting two runners on with no outs. Going on contact, Fullard was tagged out at home on a fielder’s choice, followed by a Tanner Wetrich line out to shortstop and a Trenton Wallace fly out to centerfield to end the threat.
Iowa entered the scoring column in the top of the fifth on Austin Martin’s first career home run as a Hawkeye. Reliever Grant Leonard helped the Hawkeyes escape a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the inning and Iowa added another run in the top of the sixth on a one-out RBI double by sophomore Tanner Padgett.
After redshirt junior Kyle Shimp struck out the side in the bottom of the sixth, he ran into trouble in the seventh, forcing the Hawkeyes to go to junior Trace Hoffman. Hoffman struck out the first batter he faced, before walking the next and giving up a bases-clearing double to Greg Popatak, which ended up being a backbreaker.
George Mason starter Jared DiCesare allowed two runs on six hits over six innings to earn the win, while James Beasley scattered two hits over three shutout innings to earn the save.
QUOTING HEAD COACH RICK HELLER
“It started out how I expected — a good pitcher’s duel between Cole McDonald and (Jared) DiCesare. That’s what it was for the first three, four innings before we gave up a three-spot in the fourth. Cole made a couple mistakes — one to their best hitter — and he hit it out of the park, so we’re down 3-0.
“I liked our at-bats up-and-down the lineup today when we didn’t have runners in scoring position. We spit on a lot of tough pitches. We had some quality at-bats and actually out-hit them, 8-6, but we struggled with runners in scoring position and ran the bases terribly. We ran ourselves out of two or three innings in the first five, which changed the dynamics of the game.”
Iowa went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
The Hawkeyes finished the game with 10 strikeouts, but yielded nine walks.
Six Hawkeyes –Izaya Fullard, Tanner Padgett, Zeb Adreon, Austin Martin, Trace Hoffman, and Drew Irvine — made their collegiate debuts.
Martin (2-for-3, HR) and Fullard (2-for-4) recorded their first career multi-hit games.
Starter Cole McDonald (0-1) went four innings in the start, allowing four runs on five hits over four innings. He had four strikeouts to two walks.
The Hawkeyes will continue play in the Diamond 9 Sunshine State Classic Saturday morning at 10 a.m. (CT) against Pittsburgh. Lefty Jack Dreyer will start for Iowa.