By Pete Ruden
Iowa baseball salvaged its series against No. 25 Minnesota on Sunday, beating the Gophers, 5-3, after taking losses at Target Field on April 20 and 21.
The two losses mark the first time the Hawkeyes have lost a Big Ten series, and the series is only the second one Iowa has dropped all season.
Iowa’s win on Sunday kept the Hawkeyes from being swept for the second time this spring, and pitcher Cole McDonald was a big reason. The junior right-hander tossed seven strong innings, conceding just 1 run on 4 hits, while fanning 7 for his third win of the year.
“Cole gave us exactly what we needed: a long, quality start,” Iowa head coach Rick Heller said in a release. “He had really good stuff [Sunday]. His last two [outings] have been outstanding.”
The Hawkeyes got on the board in the fourth inning when catcher Tyler Cropley singled, then scored on a fielding error.
Iowa plated two more when Mitchell Boe and Chris Whelan came up with consecutive RBI groundouts to push the lead to 3-0.
Kyle Crowl then brought a runner in with a two-out single before Whelan launched a solo homer over the left-field fence to complete the scoring for Iowa.
“This was a big game for us before heading home for a big home stretch,” Heller said in a release. “We needed that one [Sunday], and the guys made a great effort and found a way to get it done.”
The first game was a pitchers’ duel. Iowa ace Nick Allgeyer struck out 6 in 6.1 innings, while allowing 3 earned runs on 6 hits.
Reggie Meyer had a decent outing for the Golden Gophers at the same time. Meyer went 6 innings, giving up 3 runs (2 earned) on 5 hits and striking out 5.
The Hawkeyes held a 1-run lead at three different points, but Minnesota kept answering before taking the lead back for good in the seventh.
“It was a great game, two great teams and two great pitching performances,” Heller said in a release. “Reggie Meyer pitched great for Minnesota, and Nick did well for us. It was a pitchers’ duel the first four innings.”
On April 21, the Gophers kept their strong pitching going. Patrick Fredrickson held the Hawkeyes scoreless through 7.2 innings, then Jackson Rose and Max Meyer finished the shutout.
Minnesota did most of its damage in the third inning, as it put together four-consecutive singles, including a 2-RBI base knock from Eli Wilson. The Gophers added one more in the fifth to finish the job.
Despite being kept off the scoreboard, Iowa out-hit Minnesota, 8-7, and Cropley and Tanner Wetrich posted 2-hit games. But the Hawkeyes hit into three double plays, hurting their scoring opportunities.
“Fredrickson did a nice job for Minnesota. He didn’t punch us out a lot; we put the ball in play, but anytime we had runners in scoring position, we hit into double plays,” Heller said in a release. “We had the guys up that we needed up, they just didn’t get the hits. We knew it was going to be a low scoring game, and we didn’t take advantage of any opportunities that we had.”
The Hawkeyes will face Milwaukee in their midweek game on Wednesday before Michigan travels to Banks Field for a Big Ten series Friday through April 29.