Iowa Hawkeyes

'Meat Patty' - Izaya Fullard - homers twice to help Iowa baseball post key win over UC-Irvine

Hawkeyes win 6-3 in first of 3-game series

Iowa's Izaya Fullard rounds the bases after hitting a home run against Rutgers at Duane Banks Field in Iowa City earlier this season. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Iowa's Izaya Fullard rounds the bases after hitting a home run against Rutgers at Duane Banks Field in Iowa City earlier this season. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Apparently, Izaya Fullard has been called “Meat Patty” by teammate Lorenzo Elion.

The 5-foot-10, 235-pound sophomore laughed about the nickname that has even reached the Iowa baseball coaching staff.

“I’m used to it now,” Fullard said. “My roommate, Zo, he kind of started calling me that and I guess the team really loved it and now even coach called me Meat Patty.”

The Hawkeyes also loved the taters he dished out as well. Fullard blasted two home runs and drove in three RBIs, powering Iowa to a 6-3 victory over 18th-ranked California-Irvine on Friday night at Duane Banks Field.

Fullard was 3-for-3 with a walk and three runs. He said he was well prepared for the Anteater pitchers and stuck to his approach.

“I was seeing it well,” Fullard said. “I saw a lot of pitches and I just knew there was nothing he could beat me with.”

Fullard had a hand in all but one Hawkeye run. Even his single in the first moved Chris Whelan to third, allowing him to score on a Connor McCaffery groundout for a 1-0 lead.

His next two hits were clutch, coming with two outs and building a 4-0 lead.

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Fullard hit a solo shot over the left-field wall in the third. In the fifth, Fullard was down 1-2 and worked the count full. He turned on a low inside pitch again and tagged Irvine starter Andre Pallante for his fifth home run of the season. That one was hit down the left-field line.

“The first home run I hit was on the breaking ball,” said Fullard, who played at Iowa City West and Kirkwood. “I kind of just saw it up. I tried to stay with it as much as possible.

“The fastball, I saw it really well early and I got my head up. I was lucky enough to keep it fair.”

Heller said he started to see Fullard regain his swing and timing during batting practice for the Western Illinois game earlier in the week and again in practice Thursday.

“He put the same type of swing on it in the game,” Heller said. “I was glad to see that. He picked us up big time.”

The Hawkeyes (28-16) received another strong outing from ace Cole McDonald. He produced his fifth straight quality start, allowing just two runs on five hits in seven innings. He gave up a pair of runs in the seventh, but worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth thanks to an inning-ending double play by shortstop Tannner Wetrich.

“Just mixing up speeds and mixing up locations,” said McDonald, who improve to 5-3. “They’re good hitters so you really don’t want to stick with one pitch, one location because they’re going to be able to adjust and put a good swing on it.”

Former Cascade prep Trace Hoffman earned his second save, tossing two innings in relief.

This is an important series that could have an impact on the Hawkeyes’ postseason prospects. They currently are on the bubble of the 64-team field.

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“The reality of this weekend was if we want to play in a regional we need to make a statement,” Heller said. “It’s as simple as that because the rest of the RPI games we have are not that great. This is the one we have a chance to move up some. We have to continue to find ways to play well and win games and let whatever happens happens.”

Irvine fell to 28-12 and returns for the second game of the three-game set Saturday at 1:05 p.m.

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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