116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Iowa received an offensive boost from an unlikely source in its series opener against Illinois.
Brendan Sher has been more of a defensive asset this season, manning infield positions and hitting in the No. 9 spot in the Hawkeyes’ batting order.
The redshirt junior produced at the plate with two extra-base hits, including his second home run of the season, helping Iowa to a 4-2 victory over Illinois in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday at Duane Banks Field. Sher posted his third multi-hit game of this year.
The originally scheduled start Friday was postponed due to weather, setting up the twinbill.
Sher, a team captain from Indianola, provided a spark in the third of a scoreless game. With the defense shifting toward right center, Sher drilled a 1-2 pitch to center field for a double. He accounted for the game’s first run on Michael Seegers’ RBI single.
Iowa added to its lead the next inning. Peyton Williams drew a leadoff walk and Keaton Anthony laced a double to center chased Williams home. Izaya Fullard plated Anthony on a nicely-placed opposite-field single to right, making it 3-0 after four innings.
Fullard made his fifth start of the season. He finished with two singles in Game 1.
Neither team scored in the fifth or sixth, but Sher changed that in the seventh. He jumped on a 1-0 offering and hit it over the wall in straightaway center.
Sher entered the game with a .193 batting average, which jumped .024 after his 2-for-3 performance. He doubled his home runs and nearly doubled his runs this season, scoring twice for five this season. He increased his RBI total to 12 in 16 starts.
Iowa’s pitching stymied the Illinois batters. Three Hawkeyes surrendered just five total hits. Dylan Nedved improved to 3-2, getting the win with a five-inning quality start. Nedved allowed just one earned run on three hits, recording six strikeouts.
Connor Schultz was strong in more than three innings of relief. Schultz retired the first nine batters he faced, shutting Illinois out in the sixth, seventh and eighth. He gave way to Ben Beutel after the first two batters reached. Beutel gave up a single and sacrifice fly that made it 4-2. Buetel struck out the final two batters to secure the save.
Iowa moved to 16-10, while Illinois dropped to 13-14 before the nightcap.