Strong pitching fuels two weekend wins for Iowa baseball

Grant Judkins’ hitless effort on the mound gave the Hawkeyes a big advantage against Marshall on Sunday.


The Daily Iowan; Katina Zentz

Iowa pitcher Grant Judkins throws the ball during baseball Iowa vs. Oklahoma State at Duane Banks Field on May 6, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cowboys 11-3. (Katina Zentz/The Daily Iowan)

Adam Hensley, Pregame Editor

While Iowa City dealt with even more snow on Sunday, the Hawkeye baseball team was busy heating things up in Kissimmee, Florida, in the Diamond 9 Sunshine State Classic.

The Hawkeyes return to the polar Midwest with a 2-1 record to start the season, with the most recent win coming on Sunday.

Iowa took down Marshall, 10-0, in dominating fashion thanks to a balanced effort from the bats and six no-hit innings by pitcher Grant Judkins.

Judkins struck out 11 batters while only walking 3.

“We got a tremendous pitching effort from Judkins,” Iowa head coach Rick Heller said in a release. “He was striking guys out right and left all day long.”

Hawkeye pitchers Cam Baumann, Duncan Davitt, and Jason Foster chipped in as well. Neither Baumann nor Foster gave up a hit in one inning of work each.

“The pitching staff, as a whole, did a great job,” Heller said in a release. “Baumann, Davitt, and Foster did a super job out of the bullpen, giving up only 1 hit up on the day.”

Offensively, Iowa recorded 11 hits. Chris Whelan led the charge with 3 hits in his 4 at-bats, and Tanner Wetrich added a pair of hits in his three chances as well. All together, eight Hawkeyes notched at least one hit.

Marshall starting pitcher Zac McNeel lasted just four innings. He gave up 4 runs on 5 hits while striking out 5. The Thundering Herd used seven pitchers to counter the Hawkeyes’ hot hitting.

Prior to the win over Marshall, Iowa took down Pittsburgh for its first win of the 2019 season.

Ben Norman brought some power to the plate, sending one ball over the fence. He finished 3-for-4, and in total, the Hawkeyes recorded 11 hits in the 10-1 win over the Panthers.

“I loved our at-bats up and down the lineup,” Heller said in a release. “Norman had a big game with 3 hits, 4 RBIs, and his first home run of the year. It was great to see him break out. He has been swinging it well in training leading into the season.”

Just as with Judkins’ strong outing on Sunday, Feb. 16 featured a powerful pitching performance from sophomore Jack Dreyer. The Johnston native gave up just 2 hits and struck out 10 in his 5.1 innings.

“We cleaned the defense up,” Heller said in a release. “Dreyer did a tremendous job, giving us a great start. He went deep into the game in his first start, which was great to see. It was a great day overall; I was happy to see how our guys responded after a tough loss.”

Iowa’s bounce-back win came a day after its 7-2 season-opening loss to George Mason. After two scoreless innings, the Patriots plated 3 in the bottom of the third. Iowa scored 2 runs (one in the sixth and seventh innings), but George Mason added a trio of its own in the seventh.

However, as Heller said, Iowa’s resiliency shone bright in Florida — perfect timing, with a four-game series against Hawaii on the horizon. On Friday in Honolulu, the Hawkeyes will square off with the Rainbow Warriors at 10:35 p.m. (CST). On Saturday, both teams clash in a doubleheader (starting at 5:05 p.m.) before concluding the weekend on Feb. 24 at the same time.