The Iowa Hawkeye Baseball team has grown accustomed to scoring early. Entering the mid-week contest with the Bradley Braves they'd scored in the first inning in 8 of their 18 games. They made it 9-of-19 on Wednesday evening in Iowa City.
Iowa exploded for 6 runs - which is a season high for runs in the first inning for the Hawkeyes - and made a statement early on chasing Bradley starter Ryan Hodgett after just one inning of work. It was Iowa catcher, Tyler Cropley, who did the most damage in the inning. He hit a grand slam out of the 8 spot for the Hawkeyes to push their early lead to 6.
All of Iowa's damage done in the first inning came with 2 outs on the board as well.
Bradley got one back in the top of the third when Spencer Gaa doubled down the left field line to plate Jean-Francois Garon. The Hawkeyes then wasted no time getting back on the board, plating 6 more in the bottom of the third to make it a 12-1 game. Iowa's 3-hole hitter, Robert Neustrom was the culprit in that inning. He hit Iowa's second grand slam of the game over the left field fence. Again, five of Iowa's runs in the inning came with 2 outs.
As the next few innings wore on, the scoring slowed and Iowa head coach Rick Heller began to empty his bench on a chilly day in Iowa City. In all, Heller tossed 7 different Iowa pitchers - who held the Braves to just the one run on four hits.
Grant Judkins got start and tossed 3 innings of one hit baseball. He did give up the one earned run, but that was the only blemish for the Iowa staff on the day. Zach Daniels got the win, moving his record to 3-1 for the season. He pitched 2 innings of 1 hit ball and also struck out 5 batters.
Iowa ended with 12 runs on 10 hits and 1 error. Three different Hawkeyes were able to record multiple hits, but the big stories were Neustrom and Cropley. They drove in a combined 8 runs for Iowa, but Cropley later gave way to Zach Fricke who took over the catching duties midway through the game.
Iowa had 11 2-out RBI's on the day, which is a killer for the opposition. The Hawkeyes hit .438 with 2-outs on the board to Bradley's .182. Iowa also hit .357 with runners on base.
After losing 2-of-3 over the weekend to Kansas State, the Hawkeyes got a nice, bounce back win in Iowa City. The win kicks off a very long home stand for Rick Heller and his team and pushes the overall record to 11-8.
Iowa will play the next 9 games at Duane Banks Field. They welcome in Purdue this weekend for a 3-game set with game one beginning Friday afternoon at 4:05 p.m. CT.