Feb. 28, 2015
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By JAMES ALLAN
EMERSON, Ga. — Junior Blake Hickman pitched six strong innings to lead the University of Iowa baseball team to its sixth-straight win — a 5-1 triumph over Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon at Perfect Game Park at LakePoint.
Hickman was dominant, throwing three perfect innings to start the game and striking out seven of the first 10 batters he faced. The right-hander had a no-hitter through six innings before giving up a pair of hits, including a solo home run, to lead off the seventh. Hickman matched a career-high with nine strikeouts, while walking three.
“Blake set the tone for us by pounding the strike zone, which you can’t do anything better on a cold day.” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “He had his good fastball and command and was able to throw his slider and change-up for strikes.
“I was really proud of Blake; it was a very mature outing after the tough start last week in Dallas. He stepped up for us and was able to stay in the game for around 100 pitches and seven innings, which is where we need him to be.”
Iowa’s offense gave Hickman the lead early, pushing single runs across the plate in the first two innings. Senior Eric Toole led off the game with a walk before advancing to third on a Jake Mangler double. Junior Tyler Peyton made the score 1-0 by lifting a sacrifice fly to right field.
In the second, senior Kris Goodman and junior Joel Booker led off the inning with back-to-back singles before moving up a base on a Nick Roscetti sacrifice bunt. Bearcat pitcher Dalton Lehnen airmailed the ball over his third baseman’s head on the play, allowing Goodman to score to put the Hawkeyes up 2-0.
Following a Dan Potempa single to lead off the sixth, Iowa manufactured its third run. Freshman Austin Guzzo laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Potempa into scoring position before Booker delivered a two-out RBI single to centerfield to stretch Iowa’s advantage to 3-0.
The Hawkeyes pushed its lead to 5-0 with two runs in the top of the seventh. Mangler drew a one-out walk and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch before scoring on a two-out bunt single from Potempa. Guzzo knocked in the fifth run with an RBI double into the left centerfield gap.
After going hitless through the first six innings, Cincinnati’s Ian Happ broke up Hickman’s no-hit bid with a leadoff home run to left field, and Ryan Noda followed with an infield single to end Hickman’s day.
Iowa reliever Connor Grant got out of the inning unscathed, and threw three innings of hitless relief en route to his first career save. Grant struck out four of the eight batters he faced, but issued two walks.
Booker and Potempa collected five of Iowa’s nine hits in the game. Booker finished 3-for-3 with an RBI for his first three-hit game as a Hawkeye, while Potempa was 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI — his second-straight multi-hit contest. Guzzo went 1-for-3 with an RBI and also threw out two would-be base stealers.
Iowa (6-1) goes for the three-game sweep over Cincinnati on Sunday, facing the Bearcats at 11 a.m. (CT).