Iowa baseball takes 2-0 series lead against Alabama-Birmingham, improves to 8-1

By Hawkeyesports.com

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The University of Iowa baseball team commanded nine innings en route to an 11-3 win over UAB on Saturday afternoon at Regions Field. The Hawkeyes lead the series 2-0 and are 8-1 this season.

The Hawkeyes grabbed an early 3-0 lead in the third. After loading the bases, junior Robert Neustrom had an RBI single to left field to make the score 1-0. Iowa pushed its lead to 2-0 when Tyler Cropley was hit with the bases juiced a second time and freshman Brett McCleary's sacrifice fly accounted for the third run.

Iowa added to its lead with a two-run fifth before breaking the game open with three runs in the eighth and ninth innings. Senior Matt Hoeg scored Iowa's fourth run on a UAB error before sophomore Kyle Crowl's sacrifice fly pushed the lead to 5-0.

In the eighth, Cropley had an RBI double to push the lead to 6-0 before pinch-hitter Austin Guzzo found the right center field gap for an RBI double to make it 7-0. Sophomore Ben Norman's RBI triple drove in Guzzo and the Hawkeyes lead grew to 8-0 heading into the bottom of the eighth.

The Blazers responded with a single run in the bottom of the eighth to end Iowa's shutout bid, before the Hawkeyes pushed across three more in the ninth. Cropley had a two-run single before sophomore Lorenzo Elion's RBI single up the left side made the score 11-3.

Sophomore Brady Schanuel (2-1) picked up his second victory, allowing one hit over five shutout innings. He had a career-best seven strikeouts to four walks.
 
QUOTING HEAD COACH RICK HELLER
"Brady Schanuel gave us a good start. He settled down after the first inning and pitched for five solid innings. We had a chance to get Trenton Wallace in the game and he pitched well. Offensively, it was a strange day. We had a lot of free bases come our way. We played great defense up until the ninth inning, and we had good at-bats to get the game. We played well enough to be able to hold on and get the win."
 
OF NOTE…
- The Hawkeyes out-hit the Blazers, 11-6. Neustrom (2-for-4, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB), Cropley, 2-for-4, 3 RBIs, Elion (2-for-6, RBI), and Boe (2-for-3, 2 R) accounted for eight of Iowa's 11 hits.
- Cropley drove in three runs, giving him a team-best 12 RBIs this season -- a figure that is fourth-most in the Big Ten.
- Iowa moves to 8-1 -- its best start since 2015 when the Hawkeyes won nine of their first 10 games.
- Freshman Trenton Wallace tied a career-high with four strikeouts.
- Iowa had a season-high 10 walks in the game.
- Four Iowa pitchers -- Schanuel (7), Wallace (4), Nick Nelsen (1), and Ben Probst (1) -- struck out 13 UAB batters -- a team-season high.
 
UP NEXT
The Hawkeyes (8-1) return to action Sunday looking for the series sweep. First pitch is set for noon (CT) at Regions Field.
 
FOLLOW THE HAWKEYES
Stay up-to-date on all the happenings with the Iowa baseball program on social media via Twitter (@UIBaseball), Instagram/UIBaseball, and Facebook/IowaBaseball.