IOWA CITY, Iowa — With snow falling in the bottom of the eighth inning, sophomore Grant Judkins hit a two-out RBI double down the left field line, sending the University of Iowa baseball 2-1 series-clinching victory over Ohio State on Sunday afternoon at Duane Banks Field.
“I was trying to put something in play and give us a chance to score,” said Judkins, whose early season has been hampered by a hamstring injury. “This is a crazy game and you just have to stay confident and locked in and be ready for when the opportunity comes.”
The victory gives the Hawkeyes their sixth straight Big Ten series win dating back to the 2017 season and moves Iowa’s record to 19-10 overall, 5-3 in league play.
The game was tied at one heading to the eighth when sophomore Kyle Crowl drew a two-out walk and sophomore Justin Jenkins followed with a single to left field. Ohio State summoned closer Seth Kinker and Judkins went the other way, blooping a double down the left field line to give Iowa the lead.
The Hawkeyes struck first, scoring an unearned run in the second inning against starter Adam Niemeyer. Senior Austin Guzzo was plunked to lead off the inning and Lorenzo Elion reached off a fielding error by the Buckeyes’ first baseman. Crowl delivered a sacrifice fly to center field, giving Iowa a 1-0 lead.
The Buckeyes tied the game in the fourth on a solo home run from Noah McGowan. It was the only run surrendered by junior starter Cole McDonald. The right-hander went six innings, scattered three hits and had a career-high eight strikeouts.
“Cole gave us a really good start,” said Iowa head coach Rick Heller. “It has been a progression with him and today was a really good sign. He pitched in a tough situation last weekend against Illinois, similar to this weekend, and I thought he was the best he has been as a Hawkeye.”
Junior reliever Zach Daniels (4-1) allowed one hit and fanned three over the final three innings. He struck out three. Ohio State’s Kyle Michalik (0-1) suffered the loss.
QUOTING HEAD COACH RICK HELLER
“This was a big series for us and today every pitch mattered, especially on a day when the offense wasn’t clicking for either team because of the pitching. For us to find a way to get the win is a big one and we showed a lot of character and toughness. I feel like we are heading in the right direction moving forward and there is a lot of season left.”
Niemeyer had a no-hitter through 4 1/3 innings before Neustrom singled with one out. Iowa out-hit Ohio State, 5-4, in the game with five players recording a hit.
Judkins made his first career appearance in left field after entering the game as a pinch hitter. He went 1-for-3 with an RBI.
The Hawkeyes move to 10-3 at Duane Banks Field this season.
Iowa has won six straight Big Ten series contests.
The Hawkeyes return to action Tuesday traveling to Peoria, Illinois, for a midweek matchup against Bradley. Iowa won the first matchup, 13-9, on March 28 in Iowa City. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. (CT).