Hawkeyes falter after rain delay, drop Big Ten opener to Purdue
IOWA CITY, Ia. — After daunting skies lingered throughout the early going, Friday’s inevitable weather delay commenced in the eighth — as the race to beat the rain sputtered and flopped.
So did the Hawkeyes.
Following seven-plus innings of dual-sided offensive futility, Purdue finally broke through against Iowa reliever Drake Robison. With a man on first and one out, Nick Dalesandro ripped the first pitch out of the one-hour, 10-minute delay for an RBI triple. He trotted home on Jacson McGowan’s run-scoring double one pitch later, supplying the Boilermakers with enough firepower for a 2-0 win in Friday’s Big Ten Conference opener at Duane Banks Field.
“I felt confident coming out,” said Robison, who started the eighth before returning once play resumed. “I felt the same way going into the rain delay — that I was ready to perform.
“And we just didn’t get the results that we wanted.”
Although Iowa’s eighth-inning collapse signaled more problems for a scuffling bullpen, the bats didn’t deliver any favors. The Hawkeyes (11-9, 0-1 Big Ten) left 10 on base — including seven over the first four innings — and finished 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
Back-to-back singles arrived with one out in the second. Nobody moved. Tyler Cropley smashed a one-out triple in the fourth. He didn’t move. Two-out chances in the first and fifth mustered nothing.
“We had some really bad at-bats with runners in scoring position the first six innings,” Hawkeyes coach Rick Heller said, “and ultimately, that’s what came back to bite us.”
Through seven, though, Iowa’s mound work held up its end.
After missing last weekend’s start at Kansas State with what an MRI revealed as elbow and forearm inflammation, junior Nick Gallagher returned to usual form in his 2017 home debut. Iowa’s Friday ace tossed five scoreless on 75 pitches and yielded just five hits and two walks with four strikeouts — an outing Heller pegged as “the big positive” of the afternoon.
Gallagher encountered some traffic — Purdue (12-8, 1-0) put runners in scoring position in each of his last three innings — but the Iowa City West product navigated through unscathed.
“Taking a week off definitely helped me a lot,” Gallagher said. “Increased rehab definitely helped as well. But yeah, it felt normal out there.
“It was good to get back out there.”
Robison was hoping for the same. After Josh Martsching tossed two perfect frames with five strikeouts, the Ole Miss transfer entered in the eighth and faced just two batters — a groundout and a walk — before the skies opened.
Robison said he asked Heller during the delay if this was still his game. His coach replied with a yes.
Purdue, though, had an ambush waiting.
“From a personal standpoint, just being more prepared,” Robison said, “making more quality pitches. I gave up the (hits). I missed my spot.
“I’ve got to be better and help out the team.”
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 email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.