May 9, 2015
- Read the May issue of Hawk Talk Monthly
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye iPhone/iPad app!
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye Android app!
- Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The 15th-ranked University of Iowa baseball team scored eight runs in the first two innings to cruise to its eighth straight Big Ten series win, downing Minnesota, 10-2, in game two of the three-game weekend series Saturday afternoon at Duane Banks Field.
The Hawkeyes scored 10 runs on 10 hits for the game to improve to 36-12 overall and 17-3 in Big Ten Conference play, still 1 1/2 games behind league-leading Illinois (18-1). It is the second consecutive season Iowa has won the series over the Gophers.
“It was great to see the team take advantage of the free bases they gave us early,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “There have been times early this year when we had those opportunities, but we would hit into a double play or something crazy. We were dialed in all night, and weren’t chasing, which led to the free bases.
“Today we were fortunate to get those big knocks with the bases loaded, and that gave us some cushion so Blake (Hickman) could go out and pitch and play his game.”
Iowa pushed four runs across the plate in its first at-bat, loading the bases with nobody out to start the frame against Minnesota starter Fred Manke. Senior Kris Goodman drew a bases-loaded walk to force in Eric Toole for the first run before senior Dan Potempa missed a grand slam by a couple of feet, instead settling for a bases-clearing double off the wall in left field, stretching the lead to 4-0.
Manke’s day ended in the second after Nick Day and Toole reached to start the inning, and Iowa loaded the bases for a second straight inning when Jake Mangler drew a walk against reliever Toby Anderson. Junior Tyler Peyton followed with a three-run triple into the right centerfield gap, pushing the lead to 7-0, and Goodman followed with an RBI groundout to make the score 8-0.
After going down in order against Hickman in each of the first three innings, Minnesota tallied its first two hits in the fourth. Dan Motl led off the frame with a single to right field before Connor Schaefbauer roped an RBI double into the right centerfield gap, making the score 8-1.
The Hawkeyes broke into double digits on the scoreboard for the fifth time this season pushing two runs across the plate in the bottom half of the innign. Potempa drove in the first run, plating Mangler on an RBI single to right field for his third hit of the day before Goodman crossed the plate on an Anderson wild pitch, stretching Iowa’s lead to 10-1.
The Gophers capitalized on a pair of Iowa errors in the eighth, scoring their final run — albeit unearned — against senior Brandon Shulista.
Hickman improved to 8-1 on the season, allowing one run on five hits over six innings. The junior, who is 6-0 in seven Big Ten starts, had five strikeouts against two walks. Shulista and junior Tyler Radtke threw the final three innings, allowing one run on three hits.
“It was good for Blake to have that early lead, especially coming off a rough (start) last week (at Michigan),” said Heller. “He gave us a quality start, and that’s what we needed.”
Three Hawkeyes — Toole, Peyton, and Potempa — accounted for seven of Iowa’s 10 hits. Potempa paced the team going 3-for-4 with a season-high four RBIs — his fourth career four-RBI game. Toole was 2-for-5 with two runs scored, while Peyton went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs.
“Up and down the lineup the at-bats have been so much better and dialed in,” said Heller. “Our hitters aren’t chasing the wrong pitches, and we’re sitting on the breaking balls. This is a team that led the Big Ten in hitting a season ago, minus a few guys.
“They’re starting to bring it all together as we finish this thing.”
Iowa closes out its home schedule Sunday, hosting the Gophers at 1 p.m. (CT). The Hawkeyes will honor their nine-player senior class in a pregame ceremony.