Feb. 15, 2014
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By JAMES ALLAN
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Iowa baseball team broke out for 26 runs to post a doubleheader sweep and clinch an opening weekend series win at Austin Peay on Saturday at Raymond C. Hand Park. The Hawkeyes won the opener, 11-5, before rallying to win the night cap, 15-13.
It’s a strong start to the Rick Heller era, as Iowa has won its opening two games of the season for the first time since 2006 when the Hawkeyes started 3-0.
“I am proud of our guys, it was a tough day to play,” said Heller on the doubleheader that was played in sub-30 degree temperatures. “The thing I like the most is it seemed like we just went out and played baseball.
“Whether we were ahead or behind, we were focused on the process of just playing the game hard. Good things happen when you do that.”
After falling behind 1-0 in game one, the Hawkeyes erupted for seven runs in the top of the fourth inning, sending 11 batters to the plate. After a walk and hit by pitch and an Austin Peay error loaded the bases, sophomore Blake Hickman made the score 4-1 with a grand slam to center field — the first home run of his career.
Junior Jake Mangler followed with an infield single and moved to second on a wild pitch before junior Eric Toole’s double to left center pushed Iowa’s fifth run across the plate. The double extended Toole’s hitting streak to 10 games dating back to last season.
The Hawkeyes’ sixth run came via Jake Yacinich’s RBI single to left center before the junior stole second, advanced to third on a throwing error and scored on a wild pitch. Iowa’s seven runs came on four hits and two errors.
“The thing I like the most is it seemed like we just went out and played baseball. Whether we were ahead or behind, we were focused on the process of just playing the game hard. Good things happen when you do that.”
UI head coach Rick Heller
Austin Peay got a pair of runs back in the bottom of the fourth inning. Iowa starter Calvin Mathews surrendered a pair of one-out walks before the Governors’ Ridge Smith delivered a two-run double to right center to cut the lead to 7-3.
Iowa stretched its lead to 11-3 with single runs in the seventh and eighth innings and two runs in the ninth. Senior Taylor Zeutenhorst scored two of the four runs, reaching via a walk to lead off both the seventh and ninth innings. Austin Peay scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning against Iowa reliever Andrew Hedrick.
Hedrick tossed four scoreless innings before surrendering the two runs in his final frame. The left-hander allowed two runs on five hits in five innings to pick up his first victory of the season. Hedrick struck out three Governor batters while surrendering a single walk. Mathews threw four innings in the start, allowing three runs on a pair of hits. He finished with a career-high eight strikeouts.
Yacinich and Mangler accounted for four of Iowa’s eight hits in the game. Yacinich went 2-for-3 with a run and RBI, while Mangler went 2-for-5 with a run and RBI. Hickman went 1-for-4 with four RBIs and a run scored.
Austin Peay jumped out to a 2-0 lead in game two, using back-to-back doubles and an RBI single from Smith in the bottom of the first. The Hawkeyes had a big answer in their next at-bat.
Iowa pushed 10 runs across the plate on seven hits and three Austin Peay errors. Potempa doubled home Zeutenhorst for the first run; Hickman’s RBI single scored Bryan Niedbalski for run No. 2, and junior Nick Day reached on an error, which plated the third run of the frame.
After Mangler singled to load the bases, Yacinich delivered a two-run single to left field, making the score 5-2. Zeutenhorst followed with a three-run home run — Iowa’s second long ball of the day, matching its 2013 season total — to right centerfield, stretching the advantage to 8-2. Potempa accounted for the final two RBIs of the inning with his two-run double plating Taylor Kaufman and Niedbalski.
The Governors fought back pushing three unearned runs across the plate in the bottom of the third courtesy of a three-run home run off the bat of P.J. Torres. Austin Peay followed with a pair of runs in the fourth when UI starter Sasha Kuebel walked in a run and a second scored on a wild pitch, cutting the Iowa lead to 10-7.
Austin Peay came all the way back to take the lead in the bottom of the fifth, pushing five runs across the plate against Iowa relievers Tyler Radtke and Brandon Shulista. The first run scored on a passed ball by Hickman before a sacrifice fly off the bat of Garrett Copeland made the score 10-9. Smith followed with a two-run double over the head of Toole in center field before Torres tripled home the final run, making the score 12-10.
The Hawkeyes trimmed the lead to 12-11 with a single run in the sixth when Yacinich walked, advanced to second on a wild pitch, third on a ground out and scored on an RBI groundout by Kaufman. Iowa then took the lead for good with two runs in the seventh before adding a pair of insurance runs in the eighth.
“After we surrendered the lead a lot of teams would have laid down, especially with as cold as it was,” said Heller. “The guys showed a lot of mental toughness to find a way to come back and win that game. They showed a ton of toughness.”
After Potempa walked to lead off the seventh, Hickman doubled off the wall in center field to score pinch runner Kris Goodman from first. The Hawkeyes scored their second run with two outs when Mangler doubled to right centerfield to plate Hickman and give Iowa a 13-12 lead.
Niedbalski scored the 14th run after he reached via a single and stole second in the eighth. He crossed the plate when Hickman reached on a Copeland error at third and the final Hawkeye run came on a double steal with Nick Roscetti taking second and Hickman stealing home.
Shulista earned his first career victory, allowing two runs on three hits in two innings of work. Junior Nick Hibbing allowed one run on three hits in 2 2/3 innings to earn the save. The right-hander struck out six of the 12 batters he faced.
Four Hawkeyes accounted for nine of the team’s 12 hits in the game. Yacinich went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs, Mangler went 2-for-6 with one run and an RBI, Potempa went 2-for-2 with three RBIs and a run scored, and Hickman went 2-for-5 with three runs and two RBIs. Zeutenhorst was 1-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs.
Toole’s 10-game hitting streak and 16-game reached base streak came to an end in the contest. He went 0-for-6 in the game.
Iowa (2-0) goes for the series sweep Sunday, facing Austin Peay at 1 p.m. (CT).
|Iowa 11, Austin Peay 5||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Austin Peay (0-1)||0||1||0||2||0||0||0||0||2||5||7||8|
|W: Hedrick (IOWA) 1-0|
|L: Hall (APSU) 0-1|
|Iowa 15, Austin Peay 13||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Austin Peay (0-2)||2||0||3||2||5||0||0||0||1||13||12||5|
|W: Shulista (IOWA) 1-0|
|L: Delee (APSU) 0-1|
|S: Hibbing (IOWA) 1|