Iowa falls to Purdue in wet Big Ten baseball opener

Boilermakers draw first blood with 2-0 victory

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IOWA CITY— For nearly the first eight innings Friday, the Purdue and Iowa baseball teams were locked in a scoreless game.

Both teams were leaving runners on base and coming up with excellent defensive plays when the other team threatened. Then, with one out and one on for Purdue in the top of the eighth, a rain delay was called, which would go on for nearly an hour and 15 minutes.

When they came back, however, the tie was immediately broken. Out of the delay, the Boilermakers’ Nick Dalesandro and Jacson McGowen had back-to-back extra base hits (a triple and a double), each scoring a run. Iowa couldn’t respond over the final inning and a half and lost the game 2-0.

“We go 0-0 into the rain delay and boom, boom, two hits and we’re down two runs before we even knew happened,” Iowa coach Rick Heller said. “You have to score to win and we weren’t good offensively tonight.”

The first of a three-game series, Nick Gallagher got the start on the mound for the Hawkeyes and was excellent in his return after taking several days off battling soreness, delivering five good innings. He allowed five hits, but had four strikeouts and walked just two batters.

Fighting his way out of jams, he also had solid help from his infield. In one especially good moment in the top of the third, catcher Tyler Cropley caught a nice flip from Gallagher at the plate to save a run.

“Taking a week off helped me a lot,” Gallagher said. “I felt normal out there and that’s really good.”

Heller called Gallagher’s performance the major highlight of the game and for good reason. Much of the Hawkeyes’ success this season is going to come down to how much of a load he can carry.

Looking normal and in control has to be about as much as Heller could have asked for out of him and it bodes well for the long haul.

Cropley had a tremendous game all around, going 3-for-4, which included a triple. The junior college transfer recorded his first career three-hit game at Iowa.

Mason McCoy and Grant Judkins also added two singles apiece for the Hawkeyes, but the offensive prowess the team had shown as of late wasn’t found on the wet turf Friday afternoon.

“It’s frustrating for everybody,” Cropley said. “We know we have to be better.”

As a team, the Hawkeyes had eight hits to the Boilermakers’ seven, though the clutch hitting was simply not there for Iowa.

In fact, the Hawkeyes batted 1-of-15 with a player on, 0-for-9 with a runner in scoring position and were also caught stealing twice.

“We had some really bad at-bats in the first couple innings,” Heller said. “Ultimately that’s what came back to bite us.”

l Comments: jordan.hansen@thegazette.com

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