By Pete Ruden
Lorenzo Elion had never played a regular-season game at Banks Field before Tuesday.
A transfer from Kirkwood Community College, he has gained experience playing with his team in the World University Games and in the spring through two series, but his experience at Banks was zero.
Elion’s first game at home was a solid one. The sophomore from Chicago went 1-for-3 with 3 RBIs, including two sacrifice flies and a run scored, in Iowa’s 15-1 shellacking of Cornell College.
“I thought Lorenzo played well tonight,” head coach Rick Heller said. “He had a hop in his step. Defensively, he made a couple plays, he threw the ball with confidence, his at-bats were much better. He’d been trying to pull the ball a little bit too much and was getting himself out, and I could tell tonight he was really focused on staying in the middle of the field.”
This season, Elion has forged a place for himself as the everyday third baseman, while Matt Hoeg, who held the spot last season, has played the role of a first baseman and utility man.
Elion’s potential was evident in the team’s trip to Taiwan for the World Games — he hit .364 with an RBI and 4 runs scored.
In his time at Kirkwood, he was an All-Region pick while hitting .347 with 45 RBIs and a .530 slugging percentage.
In his five starts before Tuesday, he was slashing .368/.429/.368 and has plated 3 runs, all against Cornell.
Elion came to Iowa with a lot of competition in the field, and he has made the most of his opportunity.
“It was a big recruiting class coming in, a lot of infielders competing,” Elion said. “We just all kept working, helping each other out, being good teammates, and Coach put me at that, so I was grateful to have the spot.”
Elion’s first game in Iowa City also came at a good time, weather-wise. With temperatures reaching upwards of 65 degrees, it was a perfect day for baseball to return to the state of Iowa.
Iowa must have been excited to get back to its home field in the sunshine, as the Hawkeyes used the beautiful weather and comfortable confines of Banks Field to take care of Cornell early, scoring 7 runs in the first inning. Iowa added another run in the second, 1 in the fourth, and 6 in the seventh to do its damage.
Iowa doesn’t have some of the big names it had last year, such as Jake Adams or Mason McCoy, but the Hawkeyes showed they can still explode offensively for more than a few runs.
“I think definitely we’re underrated as of right now,” catcher Tyler Cropley said. “I think if we come in and do what we’re supposed to do every day and get our work in in the indoor cages and outside, I think we’ll be able to hit like we did last year. It’s just we don’t have that big bat that’s hitting  home runs. It’s just going to come from a number of guys this year.”