Iowa baseball completes perfect opening weekend with 3-0 win over Bucknell
After back-to-back blowouts to start the season, Sunday provided Iowa a chance to utilize its pitching approach in a tight game late.
Just like the rest of the weekend, it worked out well for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa slammed the door on Bucknell for a 3-0 win on the final day of the Swig & Swine Classic in Charleston, South Carolina. The solid relief followed another strong freshman debut — this one from Marcus Morgan — who tossed four solid innings to begin Iowa's productive day.
Despite little offensive success, the Bison brought the tying run to the plate with two outs in the eighth against reliever Ty Langenberg, who finished 3 2/3 scoreless frames with just two hits surrendered and four strikeouts. But this wasn't the place to mess around, and Rick Heller knew as much. He turned to closer Dylan Nedved for a four-out save, and was promptly rewarded with another clean outing.
A flyout to right ended the eighth, then Nedved went 1-2-3 in the ninth to cap Iowa's perfect weekend.
Following up Brody Brecht's riveting Saturday debut was Morgan, another high-end first-year arm that's generated plenty of buzz around Iowa City. Morgan ran into a bit of trouble in the first, loading the bases on two walks and a hit by pitch. But a timely 6-3 double play ensued. Morgan didn't have much more trouble the rest of the way.
He faced the minimum in the second and fourth innings, with Bucknell's only other semi-threat coming in the fourth. Morgan gave up a leadoff single and later walked a man to put two on with two outs, before ending the frame with a harmless pop to first.
Morgan yielded just one hit and three walks with six strikeouts over his four frames, providing the Hawkeyes' offense plenty of time to find its groove. Iowa (3-0) did on Brendan Sher's RBI single in the fourth and his sacirifce fly in the sixth. Brett McCleary also added a run-scoring groundout in the sixth.
An opening weekend with little drama was exactly what Iowa needed before its non-conference schedule beefs up in the coming weeks. The Hawkeyes next head to Corpus Christi, Texas, for the Kleberg Bank Classic, which will feature games against Pepperdine (Friday), Texas A&M CC (Saturday) and Wichita State (Sunday).
“I am pleased with where we are at,” Iowa coach Rick Heller said, “but on the other side, there are a lot of things we need to work on. It doesn’t appear that way if you’re looking at the stat line, but there are things we need to do offensively to be better and there were a few situations on the mound where we gave some freebies away.
“I told the team today that every time we scored this entire weekend, we had a shut down inning right after. That’s a great sign when you see that happening and that’s a positive thing. Overall, I was happy with how the guys fought and battled and came together as a team. We just have to keep growing and work on confidence and toughness and all those things that is going to get us through these next few weeks.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.