Hawkeye baseball wins fifth-straight conference series

Iowa baseball took its fifth-consecutive conference series thanks to strong pitching from Cole McDonald and hot offense in Game 2.

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Hawkeye baseball wins fifth-straight conference series

Iowa's Cole McDonald pitches during a baseball game against Nebraska in Duane Banks Field on April 19, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cornhuskers 3-2.

Iowa's Cole McDonald pitches during a baseball game against Nebraska in Duane Banks Field on April 19, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cornhuskers 3-2.

Katie Goodale

Iowa's Cole McDonald pitches during a baseball game against Nebraska in Duane Banks Field on April 19, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cornhuskers 3-2.

Katie Goodale

Katie Goodale

Iowa's Cole McDonald pitches during a baseball game against Nebraska in Duane Banks Field on April 19, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cornhuskers 3-2.

Adam Hensley, Pregame Editor

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The Big Ten’s top-four teams have just a single game between them in the standings, and after Iowa baseball took two of three games against Ohio State over the weekend, the Hawkeyes are right in the thick of things with just a few weeks left until postseason play begins.

Iowa’s two wins came thanks to Cole McDonald’s smothering performance on the mound in the first and some sizzling Hawkeye bats in the second.

McDonald was dealing on April 26. The senior arm nearly pitched a complete game, going for 8 innings, and he gave up just 2 runs on 6 hits while striking out eight Buckeyes in the team’s 4-2 win.

“It was a big Friday night for Cole,” Iowa head coach Rick Heller said in a release. “He went out and gave us eight innings and was dominant most of the night.

McDonald’s 8 K’s tied for the second-most in a single game this season, while his 8 innings topped out as his longest outing of 2019.

But as McDonald worked his magic on the mound, the Hawkeye offense struggled to string together runs, nothing just 4 on 6 hits, but that would change on April 27.

When Iowa clinched the series in Game Two, it was day and night for the Hawkeye bats in the 11-4 victory.

Iowa scored 11 runs – the second highest run-total in April – and recorded 16 hits in a game that proved to be back-and-forth until the Hawkeyes broke away late.

“Our guys came out and it was a tough battle for six innings – a 3-3 game,” Heller said in a release. “Our offense woke up in the seventh. We had some guys with some big clutch hits and two-out hits.”

The Hawkeyes broke free over the game’s final three innings, outscoring Ohio State, 8-1, during the seventh, eight, and ninth innings combined.

Austin Martin and Izaya Fullard led the charge offensively with three hits each. Chris Whelan, Justin Jenkins, Zeb Adreon, and Brendan Sher added 2 apiece as well. All in all, eight different Hawkeyes notched at least one hit.

After the hot hitting in Game Two, Iowa couldn’t gel for a third win and a regular-season sweep on Sunday. Ohio State managed a 5-1 win, keeping the explosive Iowa offense at bay.

The Buckeyes held the Hawkeyes to just 6 hits. Pitcher Griffan Smith saw action for 6 innings, striking out six players in the Black and Gold.

“It is same story as last weekend,” Heller said in a release. “Today doesn’t ruin the fact we had a good weekend and took another series, but it’s disappointing how we played today. Offensively, we weren’t sharp.”

The loss to Ohio State puts Iowa’s road record at 9-11 on the season. However, the two prior wins elevated Iowa’s conference mark to 11-7 – good for fourth in the Big Ten, and right in the heart of another typically-hot race for the top seed.

On Tuesday, Western Illinois travels to Iowa City. While the 6:05 p.m. contest isn’t a Big Ten matchup, the Hawkeyes’ game with the Leathernecks gives the Black and Gold another opportunity to bolster its overall record and get plenty of midweek pitching experience.

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