Iowa baseball thrashes Coe

BY MATT COZZI | APRIL 07, 2011 7:20 AM

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An old-school pummeling.

In a game in which every Iowa starter but one reached base, the Hawkeyes thrashed Division-III Coe College Wednesday night at Banks Field, 14-1.

After scoring three runs in the second inning and four in the third, Iowa never looked back.

Junior Phil Keppler led the Hawkeyes offensively, going 3-for-4 with four RBIs. In the sixth inning, the Manchester, Iowa, native hit a towering shot off the light pole in right field for a three-run home run.

Keppler said the victory is significant for the Hawkeyes (11-15), even if it is against lesser competition.

“Anybody can beat anybody in a baseball game — it’s whoever plays better that day,” he said. “We’ve won two games in a row now, and we’re swinging the bats pretty well. We’re confident, keeping things easy right now. We’re keeping the game simple.”

The Hawkeyes got started offensively in the second inning, then increased the lead in the third frame as five players got on base. Keith Brand highlighted the inning, hitting a line-drive single to left field to drive in two.

Iowa has made a habit of stringing together long innings lately and its offense has seemed to found its niche. The Hawkeyes have scored 25 runs in their last two contests.

“We’re starting to put together some good innings because we’re getting quality at-bats,” head coach Jack Dahm said. “Then we’re able to extend our lead by chipping away and scoring a run here and there.”

Starting pitcher Ricky Sandquist gave up a run in the top of the fourth, but that was all the offensive production Coe would squeak out. The sophomore right-hander struck out four in six innings to get his first career win.

Sandquist went at least six innings for the second-straight week in putting together two-straight solid outings. While he has solidified his midweek starter spot, Dahm said after the game that he might come out of the bullpen as a middle reliever for Big Ten games.

“I just went out there and tried to be aggressive,” Sandquist said. “I felt good. Hopefully, I can use this as a steppingstone and keep getting better every day.”

Even with Sandquist exiting the game after the sixth, any Coe comeback was foiled in the bottom half of the inning due to Iowa’s offense. Following an Andrew Ewing single and a Mike McQuillan walk, Keppler brought the Hawkeye crowd to its feet.

The left fielder hit a 2-0 fastball high into the night sky to put Iowa up 10-1 and deflate any chance of a rally by Coe. The Hawkeyes got their last four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, as singles by freshmen Taylor Zeutenhorst and Kyle Haen paced the team in their final at-bats.

“When I hit it I thought it was gone, but then the right fielder acted like he was going to catch it,” Keppler said about his 3-run blast. “It felt good … we want to keep the offense going moving forward.”

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