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IOWA CITY, Iowa — In a 12-inning, four hour and 17 minute game, the University of Iowa baseball team walked off Milwaukee, 5-4, via a Justin Jenkins walk-off solo home run on Tuesday night at Duane Banks field.
It was Iowa’s 13th comeback win and fourth walk-off win of the season to move Iowa to 24-15.
“The Banks has magic,” said Jenkins, who left his imprint on the game in the field and at the plate. “Everybody on our team believes it. Everybody in the stands believes it. Everybody in the state believes it.”
Jenkins, the senior outfielder who entered the game in the eighth inning as a defensive replacement, before becoming Iowa’s hero.
In the top of the 12th with the game tied at four, Jenkins made a catch in shallow center before gunning down Tyler Bordner at the plate to complete the inning-ending double play, this keeping the game tied at four.
“I saw the ball in the air,” Jenkins said. “It’s one of those ride-or-die situations. I caught it and went through my crow hop just like we train, and tried to deliver the most accurate throw I could.”
Jenkins one upped himself in the bottom of the 12th with a walk-off home on a 2-2 count that went over the right field wall. It was his first homer of the season and second of his career, but his first walk-off home run in his life.
“Off the bat it was a no-doubter,” Jenkins said. “It’s the first time I’ve ever hit a ball like that, especially in Division I baseball. It was an awesome feeling. I’m speechless. My heart rate is still coming down. It’s an unbelievable feeling. You can’t reproduce this in any way.”
In Iowa’s longest game of the year, the Hawkeyes used 10 pitches. Senior Shane Ritter, who relieved freshman Drew Irvine in the top of the 12th, earned the win. Freshman Duncan Davitt was Iowa’s starting pitcher.
The Hawkeye pitchers gave up five hits and three runs in the first two innings, but settled down after that, allowing only one run in the seventh inning and one run in the 11th.
Offensively, freshman Brendan Sher was the spark plug out of the nine hole. In his ninth career start, Sher went 3-for-5 with a double and two runs scored, none bigger than the game-tying run in the bottom of the 11th off an Austin Martin single.
Senior Chris Whelan and junior Ben Norman also added two hits.
QUOTING HEAD COACH RICK HELLER
“We knew we had our hands full with Milwaukee coming to town. They have a good team. We knew it was going to be a challenge. I couldn’t’ be happier for our pitching staff. Duncan (Davitt) gave up a few early and then we shut them down for 10 innings. I’m really happy with how the bullpen threw.
“Wasn’t the greatest night offensively. In the end, we had some guys really clutch up and that’s the great thing about this team – we’re never really out of it. Anyone of the guys on this team can step up and come through.”
On Jenkins’ late-game play:
“Justin makes a big throw; a perfect throw and throws the guy out at the play. Then, comes up and wins the game with a solo home run. It doesn’t get any better than that for anyone.
“I am really happy for Justin. He’s a great teammate. Whenever he’s in the lineup, he brings tons of energy and he’s one of the best defenders in our league in center field. When he’s not playing, he’s a great teammate and he’s keeping everyone happy and loose on the bench.”
• The Hawkeyes improve to 14-6 in games decided by two runs or less.
• Senior Tanner Wetrich extended his career-high hitting streak to 11 games.
• Redshirt junior Grant Leonard extended his scoreless innings streak to 12 innings.
The Hawkeyes travel to Columbus, Ohio, for a three-game series against Ohio State, starting Friday with a 5:35 p.m. (CT) first pitch at Bill Davis Stadium.
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