March 1, 2014
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By JAMES ALLAN
DELAND, Fla. — Junior Jake Mangler’s walk-off RBI single lifted the University of Iowa baseball team to a 13-12 come-from-behind victory over Maine on Saturday at the Stetson Invitational. The Hawkeyes improve to 8-1 this season — their best start since 1968.
“This was one of the craziest games I have been a part of,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “It was a tough-it-out win. The guys were finding a way, and you have to like that.”
After giving up four runs in the top of the ninth inning to give away an 11-8 lead, the Hawkeye bats rose to the occasion in their final at-bat. Junior Jake Yacinich led off the frame with an opposite field single, pinch-hitter Dan Potempa hit a grounder off Maine reliever Jeff Gelinas to put two runners on, and junior Nick Day followed with a bunt single to load the bases to roll over the Iowa lineup.
Junior Eric Toole hit an opposite-field RBI single down the left field line that landed just inside of the line in fair territory, allowing Yacinich to score and tie the game at 12. Iowa’s base runners were forced to hold up on the play because the ball landed under the out-stretched glove of Black Bear left fielder Jake Osborne.
Mangler stepped to the plate with the bases loaded, and he laced an opposite field, RBI single into the right centerfield gap sending the Hawkeyes into a frenzy. It was Mangler’s only hit of the day, and it extended his hitting streak to nine games.
“My job was easy in that situation with no outs and the bases loaded,” said Mangler. “I just needed to get a pitch I could handle and hit a sacrifice fly or shoot a ball into the gap somewhere. Luckily I was able to do that.
“I got a good pitch to hit back up the middle. It’s a testament to the guys that came before me. They got on base, they did the hard part.”
The Black Bears sprung for four runs on four hits in the top of the ninth inning to grab a 12-11 lead. Maine opened with consecutive singles to chase Iowa reliever Tyler Radtke from the game, summoning closer Nick Hibbing from the pen. Hibbing walked the first batter he faced, loading the bases before the Black Bears cut the lead to 11-9 when Sam Blazano drove in a run, reaching on a Yacinich fielding error.
After a Luke Morrill RBI groundout cut the deficit to 11-10, Maine’s leadoff hitter Colin Gay singled into the hole at short against UI sophomore reliever Blake Hickman to knock in a run and tie the game at 11. Troy Black followed with an RBI single through the right side, giving Maine a 12-11 lead.
“It says a lot about our team (being able to come back),” said Mangler. “It’s a tough situation for any team, losing the lead that late in the game. To be able to do that in the ninth inning was huge for us, and I think it will be a huge confidence-builder going forward.”
The Black Bears got off to a fast start, pushing seven runs across the plate in the first two innings. Gay led off the game with a double to left center before scoring on a balk for the game’s first run before designated hitter Kyle Silva laced a one-out RBI single to left field, making the score 2-0.
Maine continued roughing up Iowa starter Sasha Kuebel in the second inning, using consecutive singles before Gay’s one-out RBI single to centerfield made the score 3-0 and chased Kuebel from the contest. The Black Bears’ Brian Doran welcomed Iowa reliever Andrew Hedrick to the game with a single to load the bases before Silva connected on a grand slam over the fence in left field, making the score 7-0.
Iowa began chipping away, scoring three runs in the second, two coming via a two-run single by Toole to centerfield. The Hawkeyes then trimmed the deficit to 7-4 with a single run in the third. Sophomore Tyler Peyton doubled to lead off the inning before eventually scoring on a wild pitch.
The Hawkeyes sprung for four runs in the fifth inning to grab an 8-7 lead. Peyton singled to lead off the frame, Hickman reached on a fielding error, and Goodman’s bunt single loaded the bases. The first run scored on Yacinich’s sacrifice fly to centerfield before senior Trevor Kenyon welcomed reliever Logan Fullmer with a two-run double down the left field line, tying the game at seven. Day followed with an RBI single to centerfield, giving Iowa its first lead.
“It seemed like it was going to be one of those days that you had no chance to win because everything was going their way (in the first two innings),” said Heller. “It’s a testament to our guys toughness to rally back from that, they didn’t quit and began chipping away. They fought hard, scrapped for runs and found ways to score.”
After Maine scored one in the sixth to tie the game at eight, the Hawkeyes grabbed the 11-8 lead with three runs in the seventh. Kenyon found a hole on the left side to knock in the go-ahead run, Mangler’s sacrifice fly to right field plated Nick Roscetti to make the score 10-8, and Day scored the 11th run on a wild pitch.
Hickman notched the first victory of his career on the mound, despite pitching only 2/3 of an inning, where he allowed two hits and walked one batter. Iowa used five pitchers in the game, including Kuebel who was knocked out after giving up five runs on seven hits in 1 1/3 innings.
Junior Andrew Hedrick pitched four innings, allowing three runs on eight hits, Radtke gave up two runs on two hits in 2 2/3 with three strikeouts, and Hibbing allowed two runs (one earned) in 1/3 inning.
Five Hawkeyes accounted for 12 of the team’s 15 hits. Day posted his fourth-straight multi-hit game, finishing 3-for-5 with one run and one RBI, while Toole went 3-for-5 with three RBIs. Peyton (2-for-4, 2 runs), Goodman (2-for-4, 2 runs) and Kenyon (2-for-4, 3 RBIs, 2 runs) all had two-hit games.
The victory was the team’s sixth-straight this season — the longest for a Hawkeye team since 2007 when it won 12 consecutive games.
Iowa (8-1) closes out the Stetson Invitational on Sunday, facing Furman at 9 a.m. (CT).
|Iowa 13, Maine 12||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|W: Hickman (IOWA) 1-0|
|L: Gelinas (MAINE) 0-1|