Iowa baseball: Swift start pushes Hawkeyes past Purdue in series opener
After scoring one run Wednesday in a rare midweek loss, the Iowa bats came out firing to start a weekend series the Hawkeyes must have.
Iowa delivered four first-inning runs en route to Friday’s 10-4 win over Purdue at Alexander Field in West Lafayette. The Hawkeyes had a 7-0 lead after four and cruised from there.
Purdue’s performance was riddled with miscues — and Iowa (19-13, 6-4 Big Ten Conference) pounced. The Hawkeyes quickly loaded the bases in the first on a hit batsman, an error and a walk, setting the table for team RBI leader Ben Norman. The Des Moines Roosevelt product continued his bounce-back year.
Norman cleared the bases with a three-run double, later crossing home on Luke Farley’s run-scoring single. Norman is up to 22 RBIs — 10 more than he had in a disappointing 2018 and two more than he had during his freshman all-American season.
Iowa wasn’t finished. A fourth-inning throwing error on a Mitchell Boe grounder plated two. Izaya Fullard delivered a sacrifice fly two batters later to give the Hawkeyes a three-run inning and a 7-0 lead.
That was more than enough cushion for Cole McDonald, who surrendered only four hits and one run in six innings. He walked three and struck out one for his third quality start in four Big Ten outings. Purdue (10-22, 4-5) had just one threat against the right-hander all night
With a doubleheader looming Saturday, Iowa needed a solid start to a series it can’t afford to drop. The Hawkeyes began the week in Baseball America’s next four out as far as the latest regional projections go. And that’s before Iowa lost to Bradley Wednesday.
Purdue sat 160th in the RPI entering Friday, meaning a series win — preferably a sweep — is imperative. The Hawkeyes are off to a good start.
Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.