IOWA CITY, Ia. — After Friday’s rain-delayed, late night at the ballpark sent everyone home north of 1 a.m., Saturday’s forecast delivered no favors. The Iowa wind swirled relentlessly as a nagging rain lingered to the final out. Both offenses sputtered early as a result.
Then the Hawkeyes erupted.
An emphatic four-run seventh inning preceded a five-run eighth, and Iowa glided to its first Big Ten Conference series sweep over Penn State at Duane Banks Field. The 9-1 win marked Iowa’s third in a little more than 27 hours, after the two teams pushed through a Friday doubleheader that began just before 7 p.m.
“It looked like we were dead in the water,” Iowa coach Rick Heller said, “and we bounced right back.”
The Hawkeyes (27-15, 9-6 Big Ten) left nine runners on through the first six innings, but uncovered some two-out mojo in the final stages. Jake Adams, who entered the seventh 1-for-12 with eight strikeouts in the series, unloaded some frustration with a game-tying solo homer to left off Penn State reliever Cole Bartels.
A Robert Neustrom double and two walks followed to load the bases for Matt Hoeg, who wiped the bases clean with a single to left that Nick Riotto misplayed and let roll to the wall. With a 4-1 lead in tow, Iowa batted around in the eighth, punctuated by Tyler Cropley’s two-run homer.
Adams’ long ball marked his 16th of the year, six away from tying the single-season program record set by John Knapp in 1986.
“I obviously struggled all weekend, but you’ve got to keep your composure,” Adams said. “You just have to bounce back, and that home run just took a lot of pressure off.”
Penn State (14-29, 2-13) nearly pushed through multiple times against Iowa starter Elijah Wood, who yielded eight baserunners but still tossed 3 1/3 scoreless frame in his first weekend rotation appearance. The bullpen duo of Drake Robison and Zach Daniels halted things from there, surrendering just three hits over the final 5 2/3 frames.
Under rugged conditions all weekend, the Hawkeyes held tough.
“It was a big series for us,” Adams said.