Iowa Downs Gophers, 7-6, to Win 2nd-Straight Series

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April 20, 2014

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Junior Dan Potempa’s three-run blast highlighted a six-run seventh inning, lifting the University of Iowa baseball team to a 7-6 victory and series win over Minnesota on Sunday afternoon at Duane Banks Field. The Hawkeyes won the final two games to claim their first series win over the Gophers since 2005.

“This was a big win for us, two comeback wins in a row,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “I couldn’t be prouder of our guys’ effort. Both (yesterday and today) were games where if you let down just because things weren’t going your way, you’d lose those game, but our guys kept fighting and playing hard.

“It was a great weekend, and I want to thank all the people that came out because we had great crowds all weekend long.”

It is Iowa’s second-straight Big Ten series victory after taking 2-of-3 at Northwestern on April 11-12. The victory moves the team’s record to 22-15 overall and 7-8 in league play. The 22 wins match last season’s total. After being snake-bitten with rocket line-outs to Minnesota third baseman Tony Skjetfte to leave runners in scoring position in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, the Hawkeyes bats exploded for six runs in the bottom of the seventh.

“We had three line drives that were smoked right at their third baseman with runners in scoring position,” said Heller. “It looked like it was never going to happen, but our guys kept playing. They kept finding a way to get on base until we finally got the big hit.”

Juniors Nick Day and Eric Toole led off the frame with consecutive singles before junior Jake Yacinich singled through the right side to cut the deficit to 3-1. After the Gophers went to Dalton Sawyer in relief, junior Dan Potempa hit a no-doubt, three-run home run over the mound beyond the fence in left field to give the Hawkeyes a 4-3 lead.

Iowa wasn’t done.

Following a Taylor Zeutenhorst opposite field double down the left field line and a Jimmy Frankos walk, junior Kris Goodman narrowly missed Iowa’s second home run of the inning, roping an RBI double 3/4 of the way off the left field fence. Sophomore Nick Roscetti drove in the sixth run, plating Frankos from third on a safety squeeze to stretch the Iowa lead to 6-3.

Iowa added what proved to be a critical insurance run in the eighth when Potempa roped an RBI double into the left centerfield gap, plating Toole, who led off the inning with a bunt single.

Minnesota (19-16, 6-9) rallied in the top of the ninth, pushing three runs across the plate to make the game interesting. With one out, Dan Motl and Jake Bergren had back-to-back singles before Nick Hibbing got Skjefte to fly out to center field for the second out. Following an RBI single by Connor Schaefbauer, Iowa went to closer Tyler Radtke, but the rally continued.

Dan Olinger and Mark Tatera had consecutive singles — a dribbler the right side and a bloop single to right field — to cut the lead to 7-6. Radtke got out of the jam, getting Austin Athmann to hit a hard grounder to Yacinich at short, where he got the force out as second base to end the contest.

Hibbing (2-1) picked up the victory, allowing three runs on four hits in 2 1/3 innings. He had two strikeouts against zero walks in the outing. Radtke recorded the final out to get his second save of the season. UI starter Tyler Peyton allowed three runs on nine hits in 6 1/3 innings before leaving with an injury in the seventh.

Iowa finished with 11 hits in the contest with four players — Toole (2-for-5, 2 runs), Mangler (2-for-5), Potempa (2-for-5, 4 RBIs, 1 run) and Zeutenhorst (2-for-4, 1 run) — posting multi-hit games. Potempa’s home run was his second of the season, and he tied a career-high with four RBIs.

Sawyer (3-3) suffered the loss, allowing four runs on five hits over 1 1/3 innings. Gopher starter Neal Kunik was solid in his first start of the year, tossing six scoreless inning and scattering three hits.

Peyton wasn’t sharp early, allowing the Gophers to jump out to a two-run lead and tally six hits over the first three innings. Schaefbauer’s RBI single in the first gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead before Tatera connected on a solo home run to right field in the third.

Minnesota tacked on its third run in the top of the seventh inning after Motl tripled to lead off the frame before scoring on a Skjefte’s single with the infield in through the left side.

Iowa (22-15, 7-8) returns to action Wednesday at Creighton. The game will be played at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb., beginning at 6:36 p.m., and it will be televised live on the CBS Sports Network.

Iowa 7, Minnesota 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota (19-16, 6-9) 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 3 6 15 2
Iowa (22-15, 7-8) 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 1 X 7 11 0
Game Decision
W: Hibbing (IOWA) 1-3
L: Sawyer (MINN) 3-3
S: Radtke (IOWA) 2