Iowa Hawkeyes

As Cole McDonald's Iowa baseball career winds down, his family cherishes every pitch

Pitcher from New Hampton delivered gem in what could be his last start

Teammates congratulate Iowa Hawkeyes pitcher Cole McDonald after closing out the top of the sixth inning in a game at Duane Banks Field earlier this season. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Teammates congratulate Iowa Hawkeyes pitcher Cole McDonald after closing out the top of the sixth inning in a game at Duane Banks Field earlier this season. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

OMAHA, Neb. — Cory McDonald gave his son Cole a baseball at a very young age.

Wednesday, the father saw the son take the ball one more time, possibly for the final time as an Iowa Hawkeye in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament.

Like many a time back in their days as father and son, coach and athlete at New Hampton, there were plenty of smiles from father and son.

What a magical night it was for a determined athlete and a jubilant father.

Cole McDonald delivered one of the most impressive performances of his college career in helping eighth-seeded Iowa upset top-seeded Indiana 4-2 Wednesday at TD Ameritrade Park.

McDonald scattered five hits over eight innings, allowing one earned run, walking one and striking out nine in a 108-pitch masterpiece.

“We needed that so bad,” Cory McDonald said. “The margin for error was so slim. The fact that they could out go out there and play outstanding baseball all the way around was fun to watch. It was so much fun to watch.”

A proud father beamed after.

“I’ve watched him throw a ball since he was 1 or two 2 old and realizing it’s coming to an end, it was bittersweet, but a good way for him to go out,” Cory McDonald said.

Father and son embraced near the dugout immediately after the game and took pictures with other family and friends outside of the park after. Iowa Coach Rick Heller even managed to make his way into a couple of them.

A father’s smile was wider than the nearby Missouri River.

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“There’s no words to describe how proud of him I am, like any dad would be,” Cory McDonald said.

Cory’s presence in the stands at TD Ameritrade Park, some 4 1/2 hours southwest of New Hampton, just as every other one of Cole’s college appearances, did not go unnoticed.

“Having the start I did last night, seeing him at the end of the dugout and being able to go give him a hug — he was as happy I was about the performance,” Cole McDonald said. “I’m incredibly thankful for all of the support he’s given me the last four years.”

Those postgame moments after games in Iowa City, throughout the Big Ten and around the country will last far beyond this Big Ten tournament.

“If I didn’t have him, I know I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in,” Cole McDonald said. “I was really thankful he was there to share that moment. I know how happy he was to share that moment.”

Cory McDonald guided Cole throughout much of the journey throughout high school in Chickasaw County.

Cory’s advice was more than what specific sport Cole played at the moment.

“It was more of how to compete, how to overcome adversity how to be tough, all of the intangibles that you need to have as an athlete besides just the natural raw talent,” Cole McDonald said. “It was just the hard work he taught me, all of the invaluable things that you really need to be successful at this level.”

Competing in football, basketball and track and field with dad around taught Cole more than what he could have learned playing baseball exclusively.

“Just learning from him how to compete as hard as you possibly can, it’s what really helped me get to the point where I’m at now,” Cole McDonald said.

Cory McDonald needed a few moments to ponder what it meant to watch Cole one more time.

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“I’ll tell you this, it was hard for my wife and I to watch the last game,” Cory McDonald said, following a long pause. “It was very hard, but in a positive way.”

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