By James Geerdes
Iowa’s bats fell silent against Minnesota on Thursday night at Pearl Field, and the Hawkeyes wound up on the losing end of the mercy rule in their series-opener with the Gophers, 8-0.
Pitcher Allison Doocy held Minnesota to just 5 hits through her five innings of work, but she allowed 5 runs. Kenzie Ihle came in and allowed the rest of the Gophers’ 3 runs needed to secure a the mercy-rule win.
Minnesota’s pitcher Amber Fiser struck out 6 Hawkeyes and held them to just 2 hits.
“We didn’t make the adjustments we needed to,” head coach Marla Looper said. “Fiser’s a good pitcher, and they play solid defense, and they swing the bats. But we talked about this in pregame. If we don’t take care of us, it doesn’t matter what the opponent does.”
The Hawkeyes fell behind early in the game. Doocy gave up a lead-off walk to Dani Wagner but forced the next Gopher batter to pop out. But Kaylen Krueger connected on a ball and sent it to right center field for a double to score Wagner.
Krueger then advanced to third on a ground out to Doocy and scored on a blooper off the bat of Minnesota’s Carlie Brandt just over freshman shortstop Arallee Bogar’s head. Jensen singled on a hard-hit ball back to Doocy, and Brandt advanced to third. Another run scored when Jensen stole second and the throw to Bogar bounced off her glove to score Brandt on the error. Doocy was able to force two final pop outs to end the damage.
Iowa failed to respond in the bottom of the second but held the Gophers hitless in the top of the third.
Looper and her squad started to string together something in the bottom of the third inning. Angela Schmiederer earned Iowa’s first hit, singling on a ground ball between the catcher and the third baseman. Daniela Ibarra popped up a bunt attempt to the catcher, and Pratt reached on a fielder’s choice, but the Gophers ended Iowa’s hopes by forcing another pop fly to the second baseman.
Doocy set down the Gophers in order in the top of the fourth. Starting the Hawkeye’s half, Sarah Kurtz tallied Iowa’s second hit of the night with a double down the right field line. Two outs later, Kurtz advanced to third on a passed ball. Mallory Kilian earned a walk to put runners on first and third. The Iowa threat was ended quickly as McKenzie Schneider struck out swinging.
Minnesota extended its lead to 5-0 in the top of the fifth with a single from Jensen and a 2-run homer yanked to left field by Kendyl Lindaman.
Ihle took over pitching duties for the Hawkeyes in the top of the sixth. Parlich singled and stole second with ease. Brandt brought her home with a double over center fielder Allie Wood’s head.
Minnesota kept attacking Ihle with a with a line drive to the first baseman to advance Brandt to third. The Gophers tagged on another single to score another run. Lindaman struck again with a single to right field to extend Minnesta’s lead to 8-0.
Iowa failed to put up a run in the bottom of the sixth inning, and that made its record 19-19.
“I’d like the sun to come up tomorrow,” Looper said. “Let’s hope the skies don’t fall on us. That’s the nice thing about a three-game series. We get another chance to step on the field. We can learn some lessons from this.”