IOWA CITY, Ia. — They don’t always provide as pretty a baseball product as their weekend counterparts, but Iowa certainly doesn’t seem to mind. The midweek suits the Hawkeyes just fine.
Rick Heller’s bunch proved that yet again Tuesday, extending Iowa’s midweek winning streak to 18 in a 4-3 comeback win over South Dakota State at Duane Banks Field. Robert Neustrom’s go-ahead double in the seventh handed the Hawkeyes (18-9) their seventh straight win and capped off an 8-1 home stand.
Iowa’s is now 5-0 in the midweek this season — its last such loss coming on April 14, 2015.
“You always want to use these (midweek games) to your advantage,” Neustrom said, “and also take advantage. These teams come out to play. SDSU is a good team, and we beat them by one run.
“We’ve played some tight ones in the midweek — and sometimes, we don’t do what we want to do to teams — but I think they always end up helping us out, making us realize what we need to fix before the weekend.”
Iowa grabbed a 2-1 lead on Jake Adams’ third-inning homer — but had to claw back after the Jackrabbits (13-11) pushed across single runs in the fourth and fifth. Adams’ RBI groundout tied things at 3-3 in the seventh after Mitchell Boe walked and Mason McCoy launched a double to right that South Dakota State’s Phil Velez badly misjudged, giving Neustrom a chance to end Iowa’s clutch-hitting woes.
The Hawkeyes were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position up until that point, but the southpaw-swinging sophomore dropped a double just inside the right-field foul line to give Iowa a 4-3 lead.
The comeback made a winner out of Kyle Shimp (3-0), who tossed two scoreless frames as part of a seven-inning, two-run performance from the Iowa bullpen after Drake Robison started. Josh Martsching tossed an uneventful ninth for his third save.
“We’ve been tested out in different spots, getting different opportunities,” Shimp said in regards to the bullpen unit. “We’ve all just gelled together and picked each other up when we’ve needed it."
Inclement weather canceled Wednesday’s contest against SDSU, meaning the Hawkeyes are back in action next this weekend at Northwestern.
They’ll head to Illinois after another successful midweek conquest.
“We try not change how we play,” Heller said. “That’s one of the reasons why we’ve got a good streak is we really don’t adjust or change. We just play it the same as a conference game.”
Dargan Southard covers preps, recruiting, Iowa and UNI athletics for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, The Des Moines Register and HawkCentral.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.