By Jordan Zuniga
Spring weather may still be MIA in Iowa, but the frigid weather wasn’t enough to keep Iowa (17-9) off the diamond Wednesday afternoon in Banks Field as it took on Grand View (12-15).
With tons of cancellations all over the Big Ten, the Hawkeyes could’ve followed suit and called their game off. But it was important to Iowa head coach Rick Heller to get the game in.
“We really wanted to get this game in,” he said. “Anytime you can get out here and see live competition, it’s really good for you.”
Fans may have expected an easy matchup against the Vikings, but that notion was quickly quieted when Tyler Smith sent a ball over the right field fence in the second inning to give the Vikings a quick 2-0 lead.
It wasn’t a lead the Vikings were able to hold on to for long, however; it took just two innings for the Hawkeyes to fight their way back.
Lorenzo Elion popped a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the second, then struck again in the bottom of the fourth with a single up the middle that brought in Austin Guzzo from second to tie the game at 2.
It has been a good stretch for Elion, who has now knocked in six Hawkeyes in the previoius four games.
“He’s given us a huge boost,” Heller said. “Two big-time hits at Illinois, and today he drives in [2 RBIs]. He’s done a great job for us.”
While the 2-run homer provided a rocky start for the Hawkeye pitching staff, they silenced the Vikings hitters for the rest of the game using a plethora of pitchers.
Eight Hawkeye pitchers took the mound Wednesday, and they combined to hold Grand View to 2 runs on 4 hits while striking out 13 and walking only 1.
The reason Heller likes to opt for the vast array of pitchers during the midweek games is to keep his pitchers fresh.
“These midweek games are really big for us getting prepared for the conference games,” pitcher Cam Baumann said. “Each pitcher throwing one inning really prepares all of us.”
While the pitching held down Grand View, the Hawkeye hitters in the sixth continued their trend of scoring in even innings.
In an unusual sequence, Iowa took the lead on a dropped third strike, then padded that lead later in the inning with an RBI groundout by Brett McCleary to make it 4-2, Iowa.
That was all it needed, as the pack of Hawkeye pitchers continued to shut down the Vikings to secure the victory.
While solid pitching was a big takeaway from Wednesday’s game, another was continuing to get used to the still-awful Iowa weather.
“We’ve got to get used to the weather,” Elion said. “We know we got to compete regardless of what’s going on.”
It may be spring in Iowa, but the cold weather doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon; it appears as if it will continue to be cold for the games this weekend. Iowa will play a three-game series against Ohio State starting Saturday at 2:05 p.m. at Banks Field.