IOWA CITY — Spring apparently sprung Lorenzo Elion Wednesday.
The temperature was above 60 degrees when the evening’s Coe College-Iowa baseball game began at Duane Banks Field. Was this heaven? No, it was Iowa, and it was to the liking of its third baseman from Chicago.
“Oh my God, this is a blessing,” Elion said. “We all love this.”
Elion liked it a little more than anyone. Not only did he belt his first two home runs as a Hawkeye, he had a triple, double a single to hit for the cycle. Iowa won, 16-1.
Which was better, the two homers, the cycle, or being included in ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays of the Day Sunday for a diving stab and subsequent throw to first base for an out Sunday against Ohio State?
“That’s the toughest question, man,” Elion said. “I’m going to say hitting for the cycle is definitely the best.”
His sixth-inning single completed the cycle. Elion blistered the hit past Coe third baseman Jacob Henry and took a long turn at first base before “settling” for the single.
“I was trying to stretch it (to a double),” said Elion. “I knew I had another at-bat coming up.”
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With the pressure of getting his first cycle at any level of baseball removed, the former Kirkwood Community College player hit a three-run homer for a six-RBI game.
Coe did Elion and his team a favor in playing this game. It was hastily agreed upon Monday after Bradley called off its home game against the Hawkeyes scheduled for Tuesday. Why? Cold and snow in Peoria.
Wanting a midweek game to keep his guys sharp, Iowa Coach Rick Heller scrambled to find an opponent.
“I got a hold of every Division I team within 300 miles,” Heller said. “No one had an opening. I sent a couple of notes to D-III teams, and Coe was the first one that got back to me.”
The Hawkeyes, for their third-straight Big Ten series, played baseball in something other than baseball weather.
Iowa won that Sunday game over Ohio State, which ended with snowflakes filling the air. The snow started covering the field almost the instant the game ended. On April 8.
The third and final game of the Indiana-Iowa series here in late March had to be canceled because of foul weather. The following weekend, the last game of the Hawkeyes’ three-game set at Illinois began when it was 36 degrees.
So, now it’s hello springtime, our old friend. It’s time to walk with you again. Right?
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Er, not so fast. Iowa was to play single games at Nebraska this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. That got changed Tuesday because of this weekend’s forecast for Lincoln. They’ll play a day-night doubleheader Friday, and try to squeeze in another game before Sunday is done.
Friday looks great over there. Divine, in fact, with a high of 70. But Saturday has rain/snow and heavy wind projected. Sunday appears to be more manageable, though not great.
The Big Ten’s cold-weather policy: Games shall not be played if the “RealFeel” temperature for the facility on AccuWeather.com is less than 28 degrees. If the temperature at the start of the game doesn’t reach 28, the game can be delayed if the forecast indicates the temperature will reach 28.
“If we’d had that rule,” Heller said, “we couldn’t have played half my games (when he coached) at Upper Iowa.”
As for the Kohawks, they brought fans to the game. They got to see their sophomore first baseman Jordan Kaplan go 3-for-4. He is 39-for-78 this season for an even .500. That, baseball fans, is something special.
Coe leads the Iowa Conference with an 8-1 record. Like Iowa, it wasn’t about to use any of its top pitchers in a midweek nonconference game.
The Hawkeyes, meanwhile, are 5-3 in the Big Ten and 20-10 overall. They’re focused on getting enough wins to return to the Big Ten tournament and defend their championship.
That will be held in Omaha in late May. It might be warm then.
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