IOWA CITY, Iowa — Junior Tyler Cropley and sophomore Robert Neustrom both hit grand slams to lead the University of Iowa baseball team to a 12-1 victory over Bradley on Wednesday night at Duane Banks Field.
The Hawkeyes jumped on the Braves from the start, scoring six runs in the first and six more in the third break the game open. Iowa had 10 hits in the contest.
“It was great to get off to a good start,” said UI head baseball coach Rick Heller, whose team is 11-8 overall heading into Friday’s Big Ten opener.
Junior Jake Adams drove in Iowa’s first run with a two-out RBI single to knock in senior Mason McCoy before the Hawkeyes loaded the bases on a Chris Whelan single and an Austin Guzzo walk. Matt Hoeg was then plunked to force in a run, pushing the lead to 2-0.
Cropley then stepped to the plate and delivered a no-doubter to left field. It was his second home run in three games and Iowa’s second grand slam of the season.
“Cropley comes up with two-outs and hits a grand slam, which was big,” Heller said. “It took a lot of pressure off of our pitching staff.”
After Bradley got one run back in the top of the third, Iowa’s offense was at it again.
Whelan singled to lead off the inning before Mitchell Boe and Cropley drew two-out walks. Neustrom followed Cropley’s act, hitting an opposite field grand slam for his third home run of the season.
“I hit it pretty low, so I thought it may have bounced off the wall,” said Neustrom. “When I heard the fans cheering and realized it went over the wall, I was pretty excited.”
Freshman Grant Judkins tossed three solid innings in the start, allowing one run on a single hit with three strikeouts. The Hawkeyes then turned it over to the bullpen in a “staff” day. Six relievers held the Braves at bay, surrendering three hits and striking out 10.
Sophomore Zach Daniels (3-1) tossed two shutout innings to earn the win. He allowed one hit and fanned five to pick up his third victory.
“We had a few guys we wanted to get out there after a rough outing at Kansas State,” said Heller. “Zach gave us two quality innings, punched out five and looked really good.”
Three Hawkeyes posted multi-hit games in the contest. Freshman Ben Norman was 2-for-5, Adams was 2-for-5 with a run and RBI, and Whelan was 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Neustrom and Cropley had one hit, but they accounted for eight RBIs.
The Hawkeyes return to action Friday, opening Big Ten Conference action against Purdue. First pitch is slated for 4:05 p.m. (CT)