US Hawkeyes rally in sloppy opener

Iowa+head+coach+Rick+Heller+speaks+with+members+of+the+media+before+a+baseball+practice+at+Duane+Banks+field+on+Tuesday%2C+Aug.+15%2C+2017.+The+Hawkeyes+will+travel+to+Taipei%2C+Taiwan%2C+today+to+represent+the+United+States+as+the+USA+National+Team+at+the+World+University+Games+from+Aug.+19-30.+%28Joseph+Cress%2FThe+Daily+Iowan%29
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US Hawkeyes rally in sloppy opener

Iowa head coach Rick Heller speaks with members of the media before a baseball practice at Duane Banks field on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017. The Hawkeyes will travel to Taipei, Taiwan, today to represent the United States as the USA National Team at the World University Games from Aug. 19-30. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa head coach Rick Heller speaks with members of the media before a baseball practice at Duane Banks field on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017. The Hawkeyes will travel to Taipei, Taiwan, today to represent the United States as the USA National Team at the World University Games from Aug. 19-30. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

Iowa head coach Rick Heller speaks with members of the media before a baseball practice at Duane Banks field on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017. The Hawkeyes will travel to Taipei, Taiwan, today to represent the United States as the USA National Team at the World University Games from Aug. 19-30. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

Iowa head coach Rick Heller speaks with members of the media before a baseball practice at Duane Banks field on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017. The Hawkeyes will travel to Taipei, Taiwan, today to represent the United States as the USA National Team at the World University Games from Aug. 19-30. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

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Representing Team USA, Hawkeye baseball utilized an eighth-inning scoring run to lift itself over Mexico in the teams’ World University Games opener in Taipei, Taiwan.

Defeating Mexico 3-2, USA struggled offensively for most of the contest, tallying only 3 hits in the game.

“Both teams set offense back about 30 years tonight,” head coach Rick Heller said in a release. “Their pitcher did a good job changing speeds, and he was just wild enough that he was effective.”

But in crunch time, the Hawkeyes delivered.

The eighth-inning breakthrough started when sophomore Ben Norman reached first base after being hit by a pitch. Junior Robert Neustrom followed by connecting on a single to right field, giving USA runners on first and third.

Neustrom stole second base when senior Tyler Cropley came up to bat.

With two runners in scoring position and the game sitting at 1-1, Cropley hit a sacrifice fly that allowed Norman to break the stalemate.

Brett McCleary then cranked out a single into left field, scoring Neustrom. The freshmen’s hit gave USA its third and final run of the game.

“It seems like the eighth inning is always our inning, it was last year, and we’re carrying it over to this year already,” Cropley said in a release. “[In] the eighth inning, something happens.”

RELATED: Red, White and Blue Hawkeyes Travel to Taiwan

USA got out to a 1-0 lead without registering a hit. With the bases loaded, Mexico’s Luis Urias walked Mitchell Boe, scoring Grant Judkins.

Judkins and Kyle Crowl reached base via walks, and Matt Hoeg was hit by a pitch, setting USA up with runners on each base.

Junior pitcher Brady Schanuel received the starting nod from Heller. He pitched 5.1 innings, holding Mexico hitless in his time at the mound.

“Brady did a great job,” Heller said in a release. “He had some issues and fought out of some jams early, but when he was in the zone, he was good. His fastball was coming out well, and he found his breaking ball in the third inning and brought us to the sixth. That’s what we were hoping to get out of him.”

Schanuel also recorded 8 strikeouts, one more than all five of Mexico’s pitchers combined.

“I felt good,” Schanuel said in a release. “I was a little nervous in the beginning, but I tried to settle in, and throw strikes, and try to beat it with my stuff. It was fun out there.”

USA controlled Mexico from the plate for most of the game. In the seventh inning, Mexico’s Vlises Munoz recorded a hit, ending USA’s bid for a no-hitter.

On the flip side, Mexico’s pitchers walked four batters and hit five.

Defensively, errors plagued USA. The team committed 5; Heller’s squads have never recorded 5 errors during his time at Iowa.

“It was a great win, but a sloppy win, unfortunately,” Heller said in a release. “We had three pitcher errors and a dropped fly ball; that can’t happen. That’s stuff you don’t see from our team too often. Hopefully, we got it out of our system. We have a day to recover and get ready to play Tuesday night.”

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