April 30, 2008
CEDAR RAPIDS, IA – The Hawkeyes won their second straight Corridor Classic presented by Cedar Rapids Toyota-Scion against the Northern Iowa Panthers, 10-6, Wednesday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Iowa’s offense amassed 14 hits in front of a crowd of 1,666 at the fifth annual event. Tonight was the highest scoring game in Classic history.
The Hawkeye offense exploded in the win and eight different Hawkeyes recorded a hit. Iowa was led by Justin Toole who went a perfect 5-for-5 with two RBI, two runs scored and a stolen base. The outstanding offensive effort by Toole was his 16th straight game with a hit, which is a career high. Wes Freie also swung the bat well, going 2-for-5 with four RBI and a home run. T.J. Cataldo went 2-for-5 with an RBI, a run and a triple.
“Justin (Toole) is really playing well offensively and defensively,” Head Coach Jack Dahm said. “He continues to grow as a player each game and has continually battled and fought off balls. He’s letting the ball travel a bit, seeing it well and hitting the ball every time. He had an outstanding day at the plate.”
Iowa sent 12 batters to the plate in the bottom of the first, recording seven runs on seven hits. The seven plated are the second most, in one inning, Iowa has scored this season, to take a 7-0 lead. Toole started the Hawkeyes off with a one-out single, followed by a Caleb Curry base hit to left field. With runners on first and second, Freie hit his fourth homer of the year. The three-run shot to left center put Iowa up 3-0 and was the first Hawkeye homer in the history of the Corridor Classic. Kyle Riffel kept the Iowa threat alive with a single up the middle and later stealing second. Cataldo continued to swing the bat well with his third triple of the season, to score Riffel. Ben Geelan took advantage of the Hawkeye runner on third with an RBI single up the middle. Justin Brauer reached first on a hit-by-pitch and Kevin Hoef reached on another free base, a walk, to load the bases. Toole delivered with his second hit of the inning to bring in another Hawkeye run. Curry was hit by a pitch to bring in yet another Iowa run and receive an RBI.
“Wes (Freie) put on a show today in batting practice,” Dahm said. “I don’t know what it is but our bigger guys who were power hitters in high school always seem to excel in their junior season. He is scary right now, and everything really is starting to click for him and it’s great to see.”
The Panthers chipped away in the top of the second scoring one on two hits Brent Featherstone collected his ninth home run of the season when he deposited the ball over the right field fence. The solo shot was the first Panther homer in the Corridor Classic since Dave Westergaard in 2005.
Northern Iowa manufactured another run in the fifth, making it 7-2. The Panthers took advantage of a walk and pass ball to plate one despite a strikeout and two groundouts.
The Hawkeyes added insurance in the sixth, scoring one to make it 8-2. Toole got Iowa’s offense going again in the bottom of the sixth and picked up his third hit of the day to reach first. He picked up his 18th stolen base when advancing to second. Curry walked to put two on for Freie. With one-out, Freie made his at-bat count with an RBI single through the left side.
The Black and Gold continued to drive in runs in the seventh, bringing in two to make it a 10-2 ballgame. Brauer reached on a single to start Iowa off. He advanced to second on his fourth stolen base of the season. Hoef took advantage of the runner with an RBI single to center. He later stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Toole picked up his career-best fifth hit of the evening to bring in Hoef. The last time a Hawkeye had five hits in a game was Travis Sweet on April 17, 2007, against these very same Northern Iowa Panthers.
Northern Iowa scored four to shave at Iowa’s eight-run cushion to make it 10-6. The Panthers scattered four hits in the inning and took advantage of Iowa’s lone error in the contest.
Matt Mossey got the start, allowing one run on two hits before being taken out with an injury. The Hawkeye bullpen featured Joe Singer, Zach Kenyon, Tony Manville, Jason Belk and Andrew Porter. The Iowa pitching staff held the Panthers scoreless in six innings. Manville earned his first win of the season.
Iowa sweeps its two games it played against Northern Iowa this season as the Black and Gold downed the Panthers 5-2 last Wednesday in Waterloo.
“Our guys did a great job focusing tonight,” Dahm said. “This game is so much more different then every other game. We had so much more time to lose focus after batting practice, but our guys didn’t slip. They had a good approach.”
The Hawkeyes are set to host Minnesota in a four-game series at Duane Banks Field in Iowa City this weekend. Game one is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday.
Northern Iowa 010 100 040 — 6 8 0
Iowa 700 001 200 — 10 14 1
WP – Manville (1-1)
LP – Zirbel (2-1)