CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The University of Iowa baseball team scored two runs in the seventh inning to break a 2-2 tie to post a series-clinching 4-2 victory over 22nd-ranked Illinois on Sunday at Illinois Field.
The Hawkeyes won 2-of-3 games during the weekend series to improve to 16-9 overall and 3-2 in Big Ten play. It’s Iowa’s first road series win over a ranked opponent since 2015 when it took 2-of-3 games at No. 16 Maryland.
Trailing 2-0 heading into the sixth inning, the Hawkeyes put together a rally to tie the game at two. Senior Austin Guzzostarted the frame with a one-out single before Tanner Wetrichreached via a wild pitch after punching out. Sophomore Lorenzo Elion welcomed reliever Ryan Thompson with a two-out, two-run single through the right side hole to even the game at two.
The Hawkeyes broke the tie in the seventh when Chris Whelan led off the frame with a bunt single. After Whelan stole second, senior Tyler Cropley delivered an RBI single to give Iowa its first lead at 3-2. Cropley stole second to move into scoring position and sophomore Kyle Crowl followed with another single to right field, pushing the Hawkeyes’ lead to 4-2.
Illinois’ only runs of the game came in the first inning when it strung together three hits against Iowa starter Cole McDonald. The Illini took a 2-0 lead courtesy of RBI singles from Michael Massey and Doran Turchin.
McDonald (2-1) settled in to give Iowa a quality start, allowing two runs on five hits over 6 1/3 innings. He had six strikeouts in the game.
Junior Zach Daniels, sophomore Grant Leonard, and senior Nick Nelsen tossed 2 2/3 innings of shutout relief with Nelsen getting the final out via strikeout with runners on second and third and the game-winning run at the plate.
QUOTING HEAD COACH RICK HELLER
“It was a great game, especially with the conditions we had today. There were a couple mistakes late, but Illinois has been hot and swinging the bats well. Cole McDonald held them to two and then really settled in and pitched great for us.
“Zach Daniels did a nice job out of the bullpen, same with Grant Leonard. Nick Nelsen was put in a tough spot with the tying run at second in the ninth. Our offense was good today. Lorenzo had the big hit to breakthrough for us. I am pleased with our guys.”
- All three of Iowa’s Big Ten victories have come against ranked foes (one against No. 11 Indiana, two against No. 22 Illinois).
- The Hawkeyes out-hit the Fighting Illini, 11-8. Crowl (2-for-4, RBI), Elion (2-for-4, 2 RBIs), and Boe (2-for-4) all had two-hit games.
- The Hawkeyes improve to 16-9 on the season, and 4-2 in Big Ten Conference play.
- Iowa has won three straight series over Illinois, taking 2-of-3 games in 2016, 2017, and 2018.
The Hawkeyes return to action Wednesday, hosting a midweek matchup against Grand View at Duane Banks Field. First pitch scheduled for 6:05 p.m. (CT)