IOWA CITY, Iowa — Senior Austin Guzzo’s walk-off, two-run home run sent the University of Iowa baseball team to a 6-4 victory over Loras College on Wednesday night at Duane Banks Field.
The Hawkeyes are now 12-7 overall with 11th-ranked Indiana coming to town this weekend for the Big Ten Conference opener.
Iowa trailed 4-1 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning before putting up a three-spot to tie the game. The Hawkeyes loaded the bases via walks from Chris Whelan and Robert Neustrom and a Tyler Cropley hit by pitch before senior Matt Hoeg sent a bases-clearing double into the left center field to even the score at four.
After senior reliever Nick Nelsen sat the Duhawks down in order in the ninth, sophomore Justin Jenkins led off the bottom half with a double down the right field line before Guzzo lifted a 2-0 pitch down the right field line for the walk-off blast.
“I knew I had to hit something to the right side to start out with,” said Guzzo. “I knew how important Jenkins’ double was. It was a good job by him to start us off.
“I got to a 2-0 count and I had a feeling he was going to throw me something I could hit. I was prepared to get my best swing off and I was lucky enough to hit one out. This is the first walk-off home run of my career… ever… I have had one other walk-off hit.”
It was Iowa’s third walk-off victory of the season.
The Hawkeyes grabbed an early lead in the third inning when junior Robert Neustrom connected on a solo home run to right field — his team-leading fourth home run of the season. Loras tied the game in the seventh before taking the outright lead in the eighth.
After loading the bases, the Duhawks got RBI singles from Ryan Koester and Jake Oglesby before Danny Paluch sent a sacrifice fly to right field to push the advantage to 4-1.
Nelsen (2-0) earned the victory after pitching a perfect ninth. Sophomore Grant Judkins was solid in his first start of the season, allowing one hit over four shutout innings and fanning three.
QUOTING HEAD COACH RICK HELLER
“This is big, after a tough one yesterday to have to watch this game for seven innings and look like you’re going to lose. It would have been a tough locker room had we lost that one.
“Loras played well, they didn’t give us any free bases on a day when the wind was blowing in and we hit a lot of fly balls and they’re not going anywhere. On the positive side, our pitchers did a nice job. It was
nice to see Judkins go out and throw four innings, we were hoping for three. All of the pitchers threw strikes. Cam Baumann had good stuff, he just got nickel and dimed a little bit.”
– Iowa improves to 5-1 at Duane Banks Field this season.
– Seven different Hawkeyes accounted for all of Iowa’s seven hits. Hoeg had a season-high three RBIs.
– Guzzo and Neustrom both homered, giving the Hawkeyes their first multi home run game of the season.
– Wednesday’s win was Iowa’s third come-from-behind victory this season.
The Hawkeyes (12-7) open Big Ten Conference play Friday, hosting 11th-ranked Indiana for a three-game series at Duane Banks Field. The two teams will play a Friday doubleheader (time TBA) before wrapping up the series Sunday at 1 p.m. (CT).