IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa baseball team pounded out 14 hits and punched out 12 batters to battle back from a 3-0 deficit to outlast Northern Illinois, 8-6, Tuesday afternoon at Duane Banks Field.
Iowa improves to 21-14 with a series looming against Big Ten leader Nebraska.
“It’s big for us confidence-wise,” said senior Tanner Wetrich on finding ways to win during midweek games. “You never want drop one of these games. It’s tough to come out with energy every game. We matched their energy today. It was a big game that we needed to win tonight.”
Iowa’s comeback effort started in the third inning when Iowa strung together three hits to score two runs. Northern Illinois responded with two runs in the fourth to lead 5-2 halfway through four innings.
The Hawkeyes added one run in the fourth on a Fullard sacrifice fly with the bases loaded and one run in the fifth on a Wetrich solo home run. Through six innings, Iowa trailed 5-4.
In the seventh inning, Wetrich continued his offensive tear with a triple to score junior Zeb Adreon and then tied the game at six, scoring on a wild pitch.
“It’s good to see Tanner heating up here as we head down the stretch,” head coach Rick Heller said.
Iowa used four hits in the eighth inning to take an 8-6 lead into the ninth. Fullard delivered the go-ahead RBI through the right side that scored sophomore Brett McCleary.
After freshman starting pitcher Duncan Davitt allowed five runs (four earned) in 3 1/3 innings, the Hawkeye bullpen allowed only one run in the final 5 1/3 innings. Seven Iowa pitchers combined to strike out 12 batters, while issuing zero free passes.
Junior Trace Hoffman (4-1) earned the win after pitching a scoreless seventh inning and redshirt junior Grant Leonard shut the door in the ninth to earn his ninth save in as many chances. Leonard worked around two leadoff baserunners with two strikeouts to complete the save.
QUOTING HEAD COACH RICK HELLER
“I was happy with a number of things tonight. The pitchers went out there and pounded the zone. We didn’t walk a batter for the first time this year, which is a big step for us. That was a good sign.
“Offensively, we barreled so many balls up that were outs. The guys stuck with it. A team that focused on results would have laid down when all those line drives were getting caught, but we kept fighting and found ways to get on base.”
- Martin recorded his team-leading 14th multi-hit game and first since April 5 against Rutgers.
- Wetrich has tallied seven extra-base hits (four doubles, two home runs, and one triple) in his last five games.
- Leonard has not allowed a run in his last 9 2/3 innings, dating back to the Indiana series in late March.
Iowa faces Big Ten leader and 30th-ranked Nebraska this weekend in a three-game series, beginning on Friday at 6:05 p.m. (CT) from Duane Banks Field