Iowa Downs Kansas, 5-3, in Game 1

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April 8, 2014

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Junior Sasha Kuebel pitched 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball, leading the University of Iowa baseball team to a 5-3 midweek victory over Kansas on Tuesday night at Banks Field.

After getting roughed up in his last start Sunday against Indiana, Kuebel allowed eight hits after entering the game in the third inning in relief and pitched through the eighth. He finished with six strikeouts against zero walks in the outing to even his record at 3-3 this season.

“I was happy for Sasha to give us six quality innings,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “That’s exactly what we needed today with us having to play again tomorrow, so that was outstanding.”

Iowa finished with 10 hits — its 13th 10-hit game this season — in the contest with six of the hits coming from the top three batters in the Hawkeye lineup in juniors Eric Toole (2-for-4, 2 runs, 1 RBI), Jake Mangler (2-for-4, 1 run) and Dan Potempa (2-for-3, 4 RBIs). Toole extended his hitting streak to 11 games, while Potempa had a career-best four RBIs.

After tallying two hits over the first four innings, Iowa’s offense got out of neutral in the bottom of the fifth, pushing four runs across the plate on four hits. Junior Jake Yacinich started the frame by bouncing a single up the middle before junior Nick Day singled through the left side with one out.

Toole drove in the first run with a two-out single up the middle to make the score 2-1 before Mangler was plunked by KU starter Jon Hander to load the bases. After the Jayhawks brought in Dakota Smith in relief, Potempa roped a bases-clearing, opposite field double off the fence in right field, giving the Hawkeyes a 4-2 advantage.

“We talked yesterday, that it was going to take one guy (to get us out of our hitting slump),” said Heller. “Luckily today, it was Potempa that stepped up with that double to break open the game.”

The Jayhawks cut the deficit to 4-3 in the seventh inning, using back-to-back singles by Michael Suiter and Connor McKay to open the frame before Michael Tinsley made it a one-run game with a one-out RBI single to center field. Iowa avoided further damage when Nick Roscetti fielded a rocket grounder at third off the bat of Jacob Boylan to start a 5-4-3 inning-ending double play — 1-of-2 Hawkeye double plays in the contest.

The Hawkeyes got the run back in the seventh courtesy of three-straight hits to start the inning. Toole started things off with a double down the left field line before Mangler followed with a single through the right side to put two runners on. Potempa came through a second time, hitting an RBI single through the left side hole, giving Iowa a 5-3 lead.

Iowa had opportunities to blow the game open, leaving the bases loaded in both the seventh and eighth innings, but it couldn’t come up with the clutch two-out hit. Sophomore Tyler Radtke pitched around a leadoff walk in the ninth before inducing a double play and getting Ryan Pidhaichuk swinging to end the contest and pick up his first career save.

“We weren’t great down the stretch, as we had some chances to give us insurance runs and had bad at-bats with less than two outs with runners in scoring position,” said Heller. “We have to improve in that area if we are going to win consistently.”

Kansas struck first, pushing its first two runs across the plate in the third inning. After walking four batters in the first two innings, free bases came back to bite UI starter Blake Hickman in the third. The right-hander put a pair of Jayhawks on via a hit by pitch and walk with one out before getting the hook in favor of Kuebel.

Tinsley and Boylan welcomed the southpaw by roping back-to-back RBI singles, giving the Jayhawks an early 2-0 advantage.

Hander (0-1) suffered the loss, allowing four runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings.

Game two of the series will be contested Wednesday at 3 p.m. (CT).

Iowa 5, Kansas 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Kansas (21-12) 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 8 2
Iowa (17-12) 0 0 0 0 4 0 1 0 X 5 10 2
Game Decision
W: Kuebel (IOWA) 3-3
L: Hander (KU) 0-1
S: Radtke (IOWA) 1