By Adam Hensley
If you’re a Hawkeye fan at Banks Field and hear the song “God’s Plan” over the speakers, that likely means one thing.
Lorenzo Elion is coming up to bat.
The Chicago native hasn’t started every game for the Hawkeyes, but when he’s called upon, he has delivered.
“They put me in big situations — I want to come in and do my job,” he said.
When Iowa hosted Bradley in a midweek matchup on March 28, the Hawkeyes fell behind in an avalanche of Brave runs, Bradley scoring 8 over the course of the sixth and seventh innings. Iowa, looking for some sort of momentum while staring at a 9-8 deficit, turned to Elion.
Elion didn’t start the game. In fact, he only got one at-bat. But when head coach Rick Heller called his number, he made it count.
“That situation — we knew it was going to be a tight game,” Elion said following the Bradley game. “All of us pray to be in that situation. We grind hard for those type of plays.”
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Elion hammered home the tying run, scoring catcher Tyler Cropley.
“Lorenzo coming through after not playing all game, getting hot when he needed to,” Cropley said after the game. “It was really big for us.”
Iowa went on to win the game with a walk-off grand slam by Cropley, but without Elion’s eighth-inning heroics, the Hawkeyes could have been stuck with a midweek loss.
Elion received the starting nod for the 17th time this season on April 4, when Iowa hosted Grand View. He finished 1-for-3 with 2 RBIs.
His 2 RBIs proved to give Iowa life in a low-scoring pitching duel, which featured only 10 hits between the two teams.
In his 21 appearances this season, Elion has a .297 BA, fourth on the team. The only Hawkeye with a better batting average and fewer at-bats is Chris Whelan, who sat out a chunk of the season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Before suiting up in a Hawkeye uniform, Elion played a season at Kirkwood Community College. There, he was an All-Region selection, hitting .347. He led the team with 21 extra-base hits and 45 RBIs. Elion boasted a stat line of 63 hits, 11 doubles, 3 triples, and 6 home runs while at Kirkwood.
But as Iowa gears up for its three-game series against Ohio State, the Hawkeyes need consistent hitting all over the lineup. Iowa’s first few batters have proved their worth as reliable at the plate, but the middle and bottom of the order are still striving for consistency.
With Elion finding his groove, however, that might change.
“We really need [his contributions],” Heller said. “He’s given us a huge boost.”
The Hawkeyes’ opener against Ohio State (which was originally scheduled for today) will begin at 2:05 p.m. April 7 at Banks Field. The two teams will also play at 1:05 p.m. April 8 and 3:05 p.m. April 9.