By Adam Hensley
In the final game against Ohio State on April 8, Iowa managed only 5 hits and 2 runs in a low-scoring win over the Buckeyes.
In just the first inning against Coe College, the Hawkeyes tallied 6 hits and 8 runs. Iowa finished with 17 hits in its 16-1 win, only 4 hits shy of its entire weekend total from its three-game series against the Buckeyes.
While the Kohawks aren’t on the same level as Iowa’s high-powered Big Ten foes, they’re still a competitive team, boasting a 13-8 record. Better yet, they provide the Hawkeyes, winners of seven out of nine previous contests, with a game to harness even more confidence.
Speaking of confidence, for Hawkeye fans who haven’t engrained Lorenzo Elion into their brains, do so now. The sophomore tied the school record for most hits in a game (5) and hit a cycle — a single, a double, a triple, and 2 home runs.
“The whole week we focused on getting our pitch and not missing it,” Elion said. “That’s what I was fortunate enough to do today.”
Elion wasn’t in Iowa’s starting lineup earlier this season, but he remained patient until his time came, and he’s made the most of it, especially as the Hawkeyes continue their push into Big Ten play.
“He’s just seeing it really, really well,” Heller said. “His timing is good right now. He’s confident and having fun, and that’s great to see.”
It’s not shocker that when Iowa scores runs in high volume, the wins follow suit. The Hawkeyes moved to 10-1 when scoring 8 or more runs in games this season and 14-2 when scoring first, which they did.
Jumping out to an early lead gave head coach Rick Heller plenty of options to work with, both at the plate and on the mound. Fifteen Hawkeyes had at-bats, and seven pitchers saw action.
On Wednesday, no Hawkeye pitcher stayed in the game for more than two innings, but that was by design.
“We didn’t go very deep in our bullpen against Ohio State, so we really needed to find somebody to play us,” Heller said. “… I really liked the fact that we jumped on [Coe College] early, which enabled me to play a lot of guys and get everybody in the game. We got the starters out fairly quick.”
Iowa’s series finale against Ohio State saw just two pitchers on the mound. In the first two games on the previous day, the Hawkeyes pitched just five.
Getting those extra pitchers and batters into a game that featured little drama bodes well moving into a weekend series against 15-16 Nebraska. Getting an outing in which the hits came at will could be a recurring theme this weekend — Nebraska’s pitching isn’t so hot.
The Huskers are second-to-last in the Big Ten, commanding a 5.30 team ERA, and have allowed a conference-worst 326 hits through 31 games — 30 hits more than the next-worse team, Maryland.
But for the Hawkeyes, it’s all about keeping the momentum boiling.
“We just got to take this same energy to Nebraska,” Elion said.