Iowa baseball gets hitting and pitching in victory

BY BEN SCHUFF | APRIL 05, 2012 6:30 AM

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Iowa starting pitcher Ricky Sandquist entered Wednesday's game as a bit of a question mark.

The right-hander hadn't pitched since throwing one inning at home against Grand View on March 21. He had made four appearances this season, compiling an ERA of 10.12 in 5 1/3 innings out of the bullpen.

But Sandquist was effective in his first start of the season and kept Iowa in the game through five innings. Iowa's offense took over from there, and the Hawkeyes completed a two-game sweep of South Dakota State with an 11-4 victory at Banks Field.

Pinch-hitter Jake Yacinich busted the game open with a 3-RBI triple in the sixth inning. His at-bat came after four consecutive Hawkeyes drew two-out walks, to give the team a 5-4 advantage.

Iowa designated hitter Phil Keppler took the fourth walk that gave Iowa the slim lead. He said Jackrabbit reliever Blake Fiedelman's wildness left him few options at the plate.

"When I went up there, I was taking a strike," Keppler said. "I was going to make him throw a strike … It was just being patient."

Keppler — who went 3-for-3 with 1 RBI, 2 walks, and 2 runs scored — was one of five Hawkeye batters to collect at least 2 hits. Mike McQuillan and Yacinich were the other two Iowa hitters with perfect nights at the plate; they went 2-for-2. Yacinich finished with a team-high 4 RBIs.

South Dakota State tied the game with a 4-run fourth inning, capped by a 2-run home run from first baseman Nick Andrews.

The home run came only moments after Jackrabbit manager Dave Schrage was ejected from the game for what Iowa manager Jack Dahm believed to be arguing balls and strikes.

The game had a solid pace before Schrage's ejection, which halted action for a couple minutes. But Sandquist said his biggest problem in the inning wasn't the disruption caused by the ejection; it was his walk of leadoff hitter Eric Cain. Sandquist had yielded 2 runs prior to the ejection.

"My main goal tonight was just throw strikes," he said. "A team like that is really aggressive. If I wouldn't have walked that lead-off guy — that kind of got it started."

Sandquist was otherwise solid, outside of the fourth inning. He retired nine of the first 11 batters he faced, and retired the Jackrabbits 1-2-3 in the top of the fifth.

"I thought he threw really well today," Dahm said. "Even the 4-spot he gave up, I thought he made some good pitches that inning … The only thing we told him that inning was to stay away from the leadoff walk."

Iowa's bullpen took care of the remaining four innings, allowing only 1 hit and 1 walk.

Just like as they did in the first game of the series, the Hawks jumped out to an early lead by scoring early and often. McQuillan was hit and later scored to give the Hawkeyes a 1-0 lead after the first inning. Third baseman Chett Ziese doubled home a run in the third inning, and scored on the ensuing at-bat on a single to center by Keppler.

"That was real good to see, and that's what we need to do from an offensive stand point," Dahm said. "It was a good game to gain some momentum."

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