Power threat Flanagan hits two homers in Iowa baseball's win

BY MATT COZZI | MARCH 22, 2012 6:30 AM

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Grand View pitchers really only had one way to prevent Iowa senior Sean Flanagan from clearing the fences on Wednesday.

Hitting him.

Flanagan homered twice and was hit by a pair of pitches in four trips to the plate during Iowa's 20-1 win over the Vikings (9-15) at Banks Field on Wednesday evening. He drove in 5 runs.

Iowa (7-10) bombed three homers in the contest — sophomore Taylor Zeutenhorst also tallied a long ball — and the team now has 6 for the season. The Hawkeyes hit 8 homers all of last year.

Flanagan came off the bench in the third inning and smacked a 3-run shot over the fence in left-center in his first at-bat in the fourth. He launched a 2-run homer over the left-field fence as part of a 5-run fifth inning.

The senior became the second Hawkeye to hit 2 home runs in a single game this season; Chett Zeise accomplished the feat against Akron on March 2.

Flanagan has been one of Iowa's only power threats over the last couple of seasons. The 6-3, 205-pound outfielder now has 3 homers this spring, 14 for his career.

"I try not to consider myself strictly a power hitter," he said. "But all around, it was a good day."

His career has been marred by position changes and injuries, but Flanagan might have saved the best for last in his final season in Black and Gold.

The Downers Grove, Ill., native has taken advantage of his opportunities thus far, and he will likely get more at-bats as the season goes on — starting this weekend against Northwestern.

"Sean gives us something different," head coach Jack Dahm said. "He's an athletic guy, he can play some outfield or [designated hitter] … He's going to be a big part of our team if he hits like he did today. He's capable of doing that, without a doubt."

Fellow senior Mike McQuillan has seen the ups and downs of Flanagan's college career, and he said he wasn't surprised by his teammate's performance on Wednesday.

In fact, he said he knew it was only a matter of time.

"That's what we expect of Sean; we expect him to hit the ball well," McQuillan said. "He's got the most power on our team, and I think he'll keep it going."

The Hawkeyes will likely need Flanagan's power, either in the starting lineup or off the bench as a key reserve.

Dahm's squad is last in the Big Ten in homers, even after Wednesday's 3-home run performance. Nebraska is first with 23, and Michigan is second with 14.

Players such as Flanagan will have to step up in the clutch if the Hawkeyes are going to surprise the conference this season and maybe even themselves — Iowa was picked to finish in the bottom third of the league by most national publications.

So far, so good.

"That's something Coach Dahm always brings up — I'm one of those guys who's a power threat," Flanagan said. "I did struggle early on, but [Dahm] talked to me today about getting me going again and being that power guy. It worked."

Follow DI baseball reporter Matt Cozzi on Twitter.

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