TAIPEI, Taiwan — The University of Iowa baseball team rallied for four runs in the top of the ninth to earn a dramatic 6-4 come-from-behind win over South Korea at the 2017 World University Games in Taipei.
Team USA trailed 4-2 entering the ninth but loaded the bases with no outs on two singles and a walk, setting up Chris Whelan’s two-strike, three-run double to deep left-center field.
“I was just trying to keep a simple plate approach up there,” said Whelan, a redshirt junior who now has a team-leading nine RBIs. “He got me with two strikes and then I battled back a little bit to even the count and he hung a slider so I put a pretty good swing on it. I did what I wanted to do and hit a fly ball. Fortunately, it found the gap.”
Ben Norman added an insurance run by following the Whelan double with an RBI single.
Ben Probst earned the win in relief by pitching the seventh and eighth innings, while Zach Daniels threw a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth for the save. Starting pitcher Grant Judkins went three innings, giving up one run on three hits.
Sophomore third baseman Lorenzo Elion had another nice day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a run scored. Junior Robert Neustrom continued to hit for power at the Universiade, crushing a solo home run to right in the first and adding a double in the third. He’s now tied with Whelan and Elion for the team lead in hits with seven, four of those being for extra bases.
“I’m just staying within myself and trying not to do too much, I guess. I’m getting my good swing off, staying on time and doing everything I can to help the team,” Neustrom said.
Team USA finishes the Super Round at 2-0 and will now get ready for Monday’s semifinal, where it will likely face the Czech Republic (11 a.m. local time, 10 p.m Sunday Iowa time). Preparation will include the usual on- and off-field training but there will be special team-bonding activity mixed in as the Hawkeyes will get together to watch the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor boxing match, which airs on Sunday at around noon in Taiwan.
The Hawkeyes seem split on who they’ll be rooting for.
“A lot of people want McGregor,” Neustrom revealed.
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Neustrom, however, is a boxing traditionalist and seems confident that he knows who’s going to win.
“I want Mayweather,” he said. “Boxing is a classic sport and I don’t see McGregor coming in and winning.”