IOWA CITY — The numbers were staggering and the way things played out bordered on the bizarre.
Iowa jumped to a big lead, let Missouri close the gap and then answered with another outburst that would have put most other contests away.
Apparently, this wasn’t one of those days where above average run production and seven home runs were enough to tally a victory.
Missouri eclipsed deficits of eight and seven runs, rapping 24 hits and posting a come-from-behind 17-16 win in 11 innings over Iowa with a strong wind blowing out Tuesday at Duane Banks Field.
“It was one of the craziest games I’ve ever been a part of, especially with no errors on either side,” Iowa senior Tyler Cropley said. “Very, very competitive game on both sides. Just a well-played game throughout.
“Good pitching. Good hitting. Not much more we could ask from either side.”
The game featured 33 total runs and 40 hits, including eight home runs and eight doubles. Missouri scored two in the final innings and the Hawkeyes stranded the potential winning run on base after Chris Whelan’s home run pulled them within one.
“I guess you can say it was a fun game, playing throughout all 11 innings,” Iowa junior Robert Neustrom said. “It just sucks coming out on this end, especially a team like Missouri.
“We came in as underdog, big time, and played really well until the end.”
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The Hawkeyes (26-15) jumped to an 8-0 lead in the second inning. Cropley hit the first of two home runs in the opening frame. He added an RBI single in the six-run second that was sparked by Matt Hoeg’s two-run blast. Mitchell Boe added an RBI single in the third, scoring Kyle Crowl.
Iowa seemed to be cruising, especially with three scoreless innings from starter Trenton Wallace. He wasn’t able to get through the first batter in the fourth, having to leave the game due to injury. Wallace has suffered periodic tightness in his right forearm over the last month and it surfaced again Tuesday.
“It had started tightening up in the third,” Iowa Coach Rick Heller said. “He said it was getting really tight and he didn’t want to take any chances.”
Missouri (30-15) ripped seven Iowa relievers for 17 runs and 21 hits over the last eight innings, including a seven-run, six-hit eighth inning that saw 11 batters reach the plate.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t pitch very good at all today, especially the guys in the middle innings,” Heller said. “Let them back into it. Once they got hot, it was just a bunch of groundballs finding holes and we couldn’t stop it.”
Missouri took a 15-14 lead in the top of the ninth on Conner Brumfield’s RBI double. Boe forced extra innings, hitting an opposite-field homer for his first this season. After a scoreless 10th, the Tigers used four singles to push across the decisive two runs.
“We didn’t quit,” Heller said. “We had some big time at-bats in that game and some clutch at-bats.
“I don’t fault our guys’ effort. We have some guys that need to pitch a little bit better. That’s for sure.”
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Cropley and Neustrom led the way with three hits and four RBIs apiece. Boe added two hits and three RBIs. Crowl, Whelan and Austin Guzzo also had two hits for Iowa.
“I thought we had great at-bats up and down the lineup to jump out to the lead we did,” Heller said. “Then when we gave it up, we threw a five-spot back up to put it away in the sixth.”
The Hawkeyes are coming off a series win over a ranked Michigan team. Missouri was another solid opponent, ranked No. 24 in RPI. Iowa hosts Western Illinois Wednesday and then has to gear up for a big weekend home series with Oklahoma State.
“If anybody was here today and saw us play, we can compete,” Neustrom said. “We can play.
“Pitching just went a little haywire today. I don’t think you can knock our hitting today and I know those pitchers will do better on another day, too.”
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