By Pete Ruden
Things got off to a quick start for Hawkeye baseball. Especially for third baseman Lorenzo Elion.
After roping an RBI triple to right center, Elion followed with a home run in the second and picked up a double and single by the bottom of the sixth inning to complete the cycle in Iowa’s 16-1 win over Coe College at Banks Field on Wednesday.
The Kirkwood transfer is the first to accomplish the feat since Mason McCoy grounded Air Force with one in 2016.
Elion finished the game going 5-for-6 with 2 homers and 6 RBIs. The 5 hits tied an Iowa school record.
Elion reached No. 8 on the “SportsCenter” Top-10 Plays on April 8, so the rare accomplishment just made his week on the diamond even more impressive.
“I knew when I got to the dugout, the guys were going to have a lot to say to me, so I wasn’t really looking forward to coming back to the dugout, but I felt good about myself,” Elion said.
Wednesday wasn’t the only game in which Elion has been a catalyst for the Hawkeyes. The Chicago native has been on a roll recently, hitting .400 with 15 RBIs in the last eight games.
“He has been picking us up big,” Iowa head coach Rick Heller said. “The last three weeks, he’s been swinging the bat really, really well, driving in big runs in pretty much every game … Tonight, his swing looked great. He’s dialed in right now. Every ball that he hit was right on the nose.”
Iowa ducked the recent snow for the game against the Kohawks and wasted no time taking advantage. The Hawkeyes scored 8 runs in the first inning and never looked back.
It all started with a modest groundout, as left fielder Tyler Cropley bounced a ball to Kohawk shortstop T.J. Johnson, but it scored center fielder Justin Jenkins. The scoring didn’t end there.
Iowa batted around in the first inning, and five players had at least 1 RBI.
The Hawkeyes used extra-base hits to do their damage against the Kohawks. Iowa certainly increased its team slugging percentage, smacking 7 doubles, 1 triple, and 2 homers.
Cropley was a personified Iowa box score, hitting three two-baggers into gaps in his first four at-bats.
The 16 runs are the most the Black and Gold has scored all season.
While the bats were on fire, the pitching was also dominant. Heller stuck with his midweek tactic of getting as many pitchers as possible on the mound.
Trenton Wallace, Ben Probst, Jack Dreyer, Derek Lieurance, Shane Ritter, Cam Baumann, and Grant Leonard all pitched against the Kohawks, and Probst and Ritter both tossed hitless innings.
“I thought they threw well,” Heller said. “I really like the fact that we jumped on them early, which enabled me to play a lot of guys and get everybody in the game … We couldn’t have drawn it up any better.”
The win was different from a lot of midweek games the Hawkeyes have competed in this season.
Iowa only had one midweek win by more than 4 runs before Wednesday, beating Cornell College, 15-1, on Feb. 27.
The rest have served the purpose of keeping the Hawkeyes sharp in between Big Ten series. But Iowa will also welcome a rare midweek game without much drama.
“It was great,” Heller said. “It felt pretty good, and without as many layers, either; that was nice.”