By JAMES ALLAN
MANHATTAN, Kan. — Junior Jake Adams hit three home runs and drove in seven RBIs to lead the University of Iowa baseball team to a 12-11, 10-inning victory over Kansas State on Sunday afternoon in the series finale at Tointon Family Stadium.
“This was a big win; I am proud of our guys,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “It was one of those crazy, crazy games.”
After scoring four runs in the first two games of the series, Iowa’s offense broke through for 12 runs on 12 hits. Freshman Ben Norman had a career-high four hits, going 4-for-6 with two RBIs and two runs, Adams went 3-for-4 with four runs and seven RBIs, and Robert Neustom was 2-for-5 with two runs and an RBI.
Iowa led 11-4 through 5 1/2 innings before Kansas State rallied for a second straight game. The Wildcats scored two runs in the fifth and sixth, four in the seventh, and one in the eighth to tie the game at 11.
The Hawkeyes weathered the storm and battled back to regain the lead in the 10th. Facing K-State closer Jordan Floyd, sophomore Mitchell Boe reached on a one-out single and moved to second on a passed ball.
Norman then delivered, hitting an opposite field RBI double down the left field line to give the Hawkeyes a 12-11 lead.
“Ben had a phenomenal game,” said Heller. “He’s playing good baseball for us. I am happy for the guys; it will be a lot better trip home.”
Kansas State threatened in the bottom of the 10th, putting the tying and go-ahead runner on base via two free passes by reliever Kyle Shimp with two outs. Iowa brought in sophomore Shane Ritter to shut the door and he struck out Quintin Crandall swinging to pick up his first career save.
“Kyle came in and did a super job,” said Heller. “He wasn’t able to quite finish it off, but he’s making strides. Shane came in and shut the door on Crandall, the kid that hit the double off him last night. He had a chance to redeem himself.”
The Hawkeyes built their big lead, riding Adams’ hot bat. In the first, the South Dakota native hit a three-run home run before he connected on a solo shot in the fourth, making the score 4-2.
Iowa extended its lead in the fifth with a two-out rally. Junior Chris Whelan reached on an error by Crandall to extend the inning before the Hawkeyes used three consecutive RBI singles from Neustrom, Zach Fricke, and Matt Hoeg to extend the advantage to 7-2.
After Kansas State plated two runs in the fifth, the Hawkeyes answered with Adams being in the middle of the action, again. Norman knocked in Iowa’s eighth run with an RBI single to right centerfield before Neustrom beat out an infield single to put two runners on.
Adams connected on a 3-1 pitch, hitting a towering home run to left field for his fifth, sixth, and seventh RBIs, extending Iowa’s lead to 11-4.
“Taking batting practice today the wind was blowing out and we knew if we could get the ball in the air that there would be some home runs,” said Adams, who is the first Hawkeye since Jason White in 2007 to hit three home runs in a game. “Fortunately I ran into a couple balls today and it all started from there. After I got my first one, I felt good and got the next two and it kept rolling from there.”
After getting five solid innings from starter Drake Robison, the Wildcats rallied against Iowa’s bullpen. Kansas State welcomed freshman Grant Judkins with back-to-back home runs in the sixth before scoring four runs in the seventh — three coming off a Grant Reuben three-run blast.
Kansas State then tied the score in the eighth on a Steve Serratore RBI single. Crandall followed with an RBI double to left centerfield, but an Iowa relay throw from Justin Jenkins-to-Kyle Crowl-to-Tyler Cropley gunned down Serratore at the plate to keep the go-ahead run off the board.
Shimp (1-0) earned his first career victory, tossing 1 2/3 shutout innings. Floyd (1-1) suffered the loss, allowing one unearned run in the 10th.
Iowa (10-8) opens a 10-game home stand Wednesday, hosting Bradley at 4:05 p.m. (CT) at Duane Banks Field. Big Ten play begins next weekend with Purdue coming to Iowa City for a three-game series.
“We’re looking forward to getting back to Iowa City and playing in front of our home crowd,” said Heller. “Playing on the road for five weeks is tough. We survived it, there are a few I wish we could have back, but we’re playing good baseball and hopefully we can get things figured out with the pitching staff in the next week or so.”