Hawkeye baseball wins on walk-off grand slam


Hawkeye defeated Bradley 13-9 during men' baseball game between Iowa and Bradley at Duane Banks Field on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. Hawkeye celebrated home-run. (Yue Zhang/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa and Bradley were deadlocked at 9 in the bottom of the ninth inning — neither team could land a knockout punch.

That changed when Tyler Cropley stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded. Iowa’s catcher sent a ball flying past the wall for a walk-off grand slam, giving Iowa a 13-9 win.

“I was looking for something I could elevate, just put in the outfield and hit a sac fly,” Cropley said. “I guess I hit it a little further than I planned. That’s all right with me.”

Cropley’s first career walk-off bomb overshadowed a rocky game for the Hawkeyes, especially in the pitching department.

Iowa used 10 pitchers, who walked an equal number of batters. The last five Hawkeye pitchers walked at least one , and two of the 10 pitchers walked two.

Iowa’s pitching fell off the tracks in the sixth and seventh innings, when the Hawkeyes gave up 8 runs and fell behind, 9-8.

A home run in the sixth kicked off the Braves’ scoring, and a single, an error, and a 2-RBI double rounded out the 5-run inning. Iowa answered with 2 runs in the bottom of the sixth, but Bradley struck again.

In the top of the seventh, Bradley scored a pair of runs on singles, then added another on a Hawkeye error.

Needing some momentum late in the game, head coach Rick Heller turned to Lorenzo Elion, who hadn’t had an at-bat previously in the contest.

“It wasn’t an easy situation. He was facing a high-quality arm, good velocity guy, on a cool night when he’s been sitting [in the dugout] all night,” Heller said. “I thought the first swing he took was a high-quality swing, just missed. To get the hit was awesome.”

On an 0-1 count, Elion connected on a single into right field, scoring Cropley and tying the game at 9.

“That situation — we knew it was going to be a tight game,” Elion said. “All of us pray to be in that situation. We grind hard for those type of plays.”

Elion finished 1-for-1, and his teammates, especially those at the top of the lineup, came through as well.

Chris Whelan recorded 4 hits in his 5 at-bats, Robert Neustrom finished 3-for-5 with 2 RBIs, and Cropley ended the night 3-for-5 with 5 RBIs.

As a team, the Hawkeyes notched 15 hits — the same number of hits as they connected on in both games against Indiana on March 23 combined.

Whelan, Neustrom, Austin Guzzo, and Kyle Crowl finished the two-game series against Indiana with 6 hits in 31 attempts, collectively. On Wednesday, the group finished with 9 hits.

Now, Iowa turns its focus to Illinois. The No. 25 Illini will host the Hawkeyes in Champaign starting Friday.

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