By Adam Hensley
Hellerball broke out the brooms on May 19 at Banks Field, capping off the regular season with a series sweep of Penn State. Five early runs put Iowa on top quickly, and the Hawkeyes neither looked back nor sideways in their 8-4 victory over the Nittany Lions.
Iowa’s explosion came in the second inning. A throwing error allowed Matt Hoeg to reach home when Grant Judkins made the connection. Later that inning, Lorenzo Elion boomed a double into right center field, scoring Kyle Crowl.
Two more Hawkeye runs came in when Robert Neustrom singled, and yet another error plated Mitchell Boe and Elion.
On the mound, Jack Dreyer led the Hawkeyes’ defensive effort. He pitched 6 innings, and he had a no-hitter going into the fifth, until Penn State’s Logan Goodnight doubled. Regardless, the freshman looked sharp; Dreyer struck out 6.
“Just getting a few more innings under my belt, my confidence has been huge,” he said.
Penn State’s pitching, however, was less than desirable, unless you were a Hawkeye. Dante Biasi’s day ended after 5.1 innings — he gave up 7 runs on 6 hits and walked 2.
Penn State ended Iowa’s bid for a shutout in the top of the fifth inning, when Logan Goodnight’s double sent two Nittany Lions home, making it a 3-run contest.
But Iowa answered. The Hawkeyes added a trio of runs in the sixth. Elion reached base on a fielder’s choice, scoring Kace Massner. Moments later, Boe singled, plating Justin Jenkins. Later that inning, a wild pitch plated Austin Guzzo.
Iowa recorded 7 hits, spreading them throughout the lineup. Neustrom and Elion both finished 1-for-3 with 2 RBIs.
The season finale moved Iowa to 33-18 on the year — the fifth year in a row that head coach Rick Heller’s squad recorded at least 30 wins.
“Thirty-three wins, that’s pretty good,” Neustrom said. “But at the same time, we were never complacent. We got 33 wins, but it was a roller coaster still.”
Now, the Hawkeyes will turn their attention to the Big Ten Tournament in Omaha. With the May 19 win, Iowa will clash with Michigan on May 23 at 9 a.m. Earlier this season, the Hawkeyes ended the Wolverines’ 20-game winning streak and snatched two games in a three-game series.