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Baseball snaps 8-game skid

BY RYAN YOUNG | MAY 06, 2009 7:28 AM

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Iowa head coach Jack Dahm said he sensed it early.

He saw his players bouncing around in pregame warm-ups, and the sixth-year Iowa coach knew it was a good sign.

The Hawkeyes blasted 14 hits, sophomore center fielder Kurtis Muller homered, and starting pitcher Zach Kenyon tossed a four-hit gem in Iowa’s 11-4 routing of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Tuesday at Banks Field.

The win broke the Hawkeyes’ eight-game losing skid, and they improved to 15-30 overall with seven games left in the regular-season schedule.

“I was happy with the way our guys played,” Dahm said. “We played a little more relaxed tonight and played with energy.”

Most of that energy was generated on the mound by Kenyon, who picked up his first win of the season after surrendering two runs through 62⁄3 innings.

The 6-6 sophomore let the Iowa defense do most of the work through five scoreless innings. He got Wisconsin-Milwaukee hitters to pop up and ground out, allowing just two hits — both doubles to right-center field.

The Panthers didn’t catch up to Kenyon’s high-80s fastball until the sixth, when Wisconsin-Milwaukee managed a run on two hits. The Panthers tacked on a second run in the seventh frame.
Sophomore Patrick Schatz later sealed the victory for the Hawkeyes, giving up two runs on a pair of hits in relief.

“I didn’t have my slider today, but my changeup was working pretty well for me,” Kenyon said. “Definitely having my defense behind me, the great job they did today really helped out.”

Muller’s two-out two-run bomb over the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth also helped out as Iowa jumped to a 6-2 lead and effectively secured the team’s first win in two weeks.

Iowa started giving Kenyon offensive support in the fourth courtesy of a two-out bases-loaded throwing error by Panther starting pitcher Nate Caldwell that plated a pair of runs.

Electing to throw to first after fielding a choppy grounder by Iowa freshman Phil Keppler, Caldwell sent the toss high and wide, allowing freshmen Sean Falanagan and Mike McQuillan to score.

That spurred the Hawkeyes to add two more runs an inning later. Sophomore Trevor Willis crossed home on a passed ball after legging out a triple, and Muller was brought in on a double play for a 4-0 lead.

A base-clearing triple by Keppler in the eighth gave Iowa an 11-3 advantage heading into the ninth.
“You don’t want to relax at any time, because, you know, anything can happen,” said Muller, who went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. “But obviously, there is a sense of comfort when you have kind of a big lead, so you just have to play to the final out and see what happens.”

Tonight, the Hawkeyes will face Western Illinois for the fifth time this season, and Muller said he is expecting his teammates to come out play with a similar attitude. Game time is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

“We have to come out and prove ourselves [against Western Illinois],” Muller said. “That’s what it’s all about — especially with this long season. It’s coming to an end, and you have to start prove that you can play on an every-day basis.”


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