IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa baseball team erupted for five runs in the fifth and added four more in the seventh en route to a 9-1 series-clinching victory over Penn State on Friday evening at Duane Banks Field.
The Hawkeyes scored their nine runs on 11 hits, including a 2-for-5, five-RBI game from senior Tyler Cropley as Iowa improved to 32-18 overall and 12-9 in Big Ten play.
Iowa broke through after four scoreless innings, scoring five runs in the fifth. It all started with one-out singles from Mitchell Boe, Chris Whelan, and Robert Neustrom to load the bases. Cropley followed with a two-run single to leftfield and Matt Hoeg’s RBI single through the right side to make the score 4-0.
With Austin Guzzo standing on third, a passed ball made the score 5-0.
After Penn State scored its lone run in the fifth, the Hawkeyes put the game away with a four-run seventh. Sophomore Kyle Crowl drew a leadoff walk, Justin Jenkins reached on a bunt single, and Boe walked to load the bases once again.
Whelan was plunked to force in the sixth run before Cropley roped his 20th double of the season to left center to clear bases, making the score 9-1.
Junior Cole McDonald was sharp in his first start since April 29, allowing one hit, while fanning seven over four shutout innings. The right-hander retired 11 straight from the first through fourth innings before allowing his only hit in the fifth before being pulled because of a predetermined pitch count.
Sophomore Grant Judkins (1-0) went the final five innings, allowing one run off two hits and he finished with a career-high eight strikeouts. McDonald and Judkins combined for 15 strikeouts in the game, tying a team season-high.
Penn State’s Justin Hagenman (3-7) suffered the loss, allowing five runs on seven hits over 4 1/3 innings.
QUOTING HEAD COACH RICK HELLER
“I am pleased with the way we played tonight. Having Cole McDonald back and seeing how well he pitched tonight was great. He had quality stuff and it made me think of the no-hitter he threw in Taipei. Judkins came in and did a nice job closing it out for us. Hagenman did well for Penn State as well and I felt like our guys just kept grinding it out with the at-bats. I was pleased with our energy, and I appreciate all the Hawkeye fans coming out for us tonight and all season long.”
The Hawkeyes surrendered just three hits to Penn State. It was the fewest hits allowed since the April 17 one-hitter against Northern Illinois.
Sophomore Kyle Crowl reached base all five of his plate appearances. He drew four walks, extending his streak to eight consecutive walks dating back to Friday night. In perspective, the MLB record is seven consecutive walks.
Junior Mitchell Boe tied a career-high with three hits. He finished 3-for-4 with two doubles, which were a career-high. Cropley tied a career-high with five RBIs.
Cropley hit his 20th double of the season on Friday, moving him into a tie for second place in the single-season school records. John Knapp holds the record with 24 in 1986.
The Hawkeyes improve to 19-6 at Duane Banks Field this season. The 19 wins match last season’s total, which were the most since 1989.
The series finale will begin at 6:32 p.m. (CT) Saturday night.