IOWA CITY — Robert Neustrom called it a goofy play.
The bases were loaded in the bottom of the 8th inning as Iowa and Purdue were locked in a 2-2 tie in the rubber match of each team’s Big Ten opening series at Duane Banks Field. Neustrom sent a short infield hit, which Boilermaker pitcher Nick Wojtysiak slightly mishandled.
Iowa’s Corbin Woods was able to slide home, putting the Hawkeyes up 3-2. The floodgates opened from there, as Iowa added five runs in the half-inning and ultimately won 7-2.
“Those are hard to handle sometimes,” Neustrom said. “I was excited though, really excited.”
Back and forth through the first innings of the game, the Hawkeyes put a run on the board in the opening frame. Mason McCoy, who had a tremendous series, ripped his first of two hits on the day, a double.
Jake Adams sent a hard single to center in the next at-bat, scoring McCoy and giving Iowa a 1-0 lead. McCoy finished the series batting 7-of-10.
Purdue answered minutes later, scoring a run after Nick Dalesandro sent the ball straight back at Iowa starting pitcher Cole McDonald, who took the ball off his hand and was pulled from the game.
Heller said after the game it would be very likely McDonald would get X-rays on his hand. The silver lining for the Hawkeyes is that the hand hit by the ball wasn’t his throwing hand, making a return to the mound much quicker if there is indeed a problem health-wise.
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Even so, any type of blow to an already-thin pitching staff is going to mean trouble for Hawkeyes as they dive into the Big Ten season.
Senior right-hander Drake Robison came in for McDonald and gave the Hawkeyes 2 1/3 innings of mostly good work. He gave up a run in the fifth inning, but kept out of trouble more often than he found himself in it.
“It was a battle in every inning of this series,” Iowa head coach Rick Heller said. “To get a win in the series, that’s just absolutely huge for us.”
The Hawkeyes retook the lead in the bottom of the third, as Robert Neustrom scored Chris Whelan on a two-out triple. Whelan got on base with a double, part of a nice day for him (2-of-3) at the plate.
Again, Purdue responded, plating the aforementioned fifth-inning run, though it would be the last it would score in the series.
Iowa’s Kyle Shimp was given credit for the win, moving his record to 2-0 on the season. Shimp pitched two full innings, allowing no runs and just a single hit while striking out three batters, a team high.
Game six of the Hawkeyes’ 10-game homestand is slated for Wednesday, as Grand View comes to Duane Banks.
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