March 1, 2015
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By JAMES ALLAN
EMERSON, Ga. — Junior Joel Booker connected on a solo home run to ignite a five-run, 13th-inning outburst, leading the University of Iowa baseball team to a 5-0 victory and three-game sweep of Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon at Perfect Game Park at LakePoint.
“We struggled today offensively, and it looked like it was going to be one that would slip away,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “Joel came up after our pitching staff had bailed us out for 13 innings and hits a solo home run, and we got things going from there.”
The victory was the Hawkeyes’ seventh-straight, matching last year’s season-long winning streak.
Five Iowa pitchers combined to shut out Cincinnati, allowing just seven hits and striking out 12 in 13 innings.
Junior Calvin Mathews threw five shutout innings in the start, allowing three hits and striking out five. Redshirt sophomore Josh Martsching followed with three innings of one-hit ball, striking out three in his first appearance since 2013.
Junior Luke Vandermaten allowed a pair of hits and issued three walks in three innings, redshirt junior Tyler Radtke (2-0) picked up his second win of the season, allowing one hit and striking out one in the 12th, and senior Brandon Shulista threw a perfect bottom of the 13th in his first appearance of the year.
“It was a tough game, but our pitchers were outstanding,” said Heller. “The staff did a remarkable job. Calvin gave us a quality start and didn’t give up a run. It was a big day for Josh, and all of us, with it being his first game since Tommy John surgery. We were happy to see him out there, and he did great.”
Iowa flirted with trouble in the ninth, 11th, and 12th innings, as Cincinnati left two runners on in the ninth, the bases loaded in the 11th, and two on in the 12. Iowa broke through in the 13th with a two-out rally.
“(In the 11) it was a situation where they were going to have a walk-off win, bases loaded, three balls, no strikes,” said Heller. “(Vandermaten) fires five strikes in a row, and we get out of it. That was big and the guts Luke showed was tremendous.”
Booker drilled the first pitch he saw down the left field line against Bearcat reliever A.J. Olasz for his first home run as a Hawkeye, giving Iowa a 1-0 lead.
The Hawkeyes proceeded to load the bases via a pair of hit by pitches with a Nick Day single in between before senior Jake Mangler broke the game open with a bases-clearing double down the left field line. Junior Tyler Peyton followed with an RBI single, pushing the lead to 5-0.
Shulista needed just 10 pitches to send Iowa on to its seventh-straight victory. The right-hander struck out the final two batters he faced.
Iowa managed nine hits in the game with five coming from two players. Mangler led the way with a season-high three hits, finishing 3-for-5 with one run and three RBIs. Peyton posted his second multi-hit game of the year, finishing 2-for-6 with an RBI.
The Hawkeyes (7-1) return to action March 6 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, opening a three-game series at Middle Tennessee State.