Iowa baseball's Kaufman struggles in first career start


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Taylor Kaufman is mostly used as the designated hitter for Iowa, hitting a modest .262 entering Sunday’s game against Minnesota.

But he didn’t enter the batter’s box that day; instead, he took the mound for his first career pitching start for the Hawkeyes in the final game of a three-game weekend set against Minnesota. The showing wasn’t his greatest — Minnesota took Sunday’s game, 9-5, the second win over Iowa during the weekend.

“I felt Taylor was going to give us the best opportunity in this game, and we didn’t help him,” Iowa baseball coach Jack Dahm said. zmake a couple plays behind him, he probably doesn’t give up any runs, or maybe 1 … I thought he threw the ball well, handled it very well, and it’s a shame that we couldn’t put a better defense behind him.”

Prior to Sunday, Kaufman made 12 pitching appearances, tallying 36 innings with an earned-run average of 3.50. He had 14 runs scored against him during that span.

“I think it was a decent outing,” Kaufman said. “Obviously, it could have been better in some ways. I think the first one is always the hardest because the nerves are out there, and they’re at a high level, and sometimes, you just got to slow down… From here on out it should go a lot smoother.”

It was a messy third-inning for Kaufman. He faced nine batters and allowed 4 hits, 3 runs, and hit Alex LaShomb. But the sophomore received little help from his teammates in the outing — shortstop Nick Roscetti committed 2 errors, and second baseman Jake Mangler dropped a sure out that extended the inning.

“It just can’t get any worse than what it was today when it comes to defense around me,” Kaufman said.

Kaufman pitched for 4 innings, facing 23 batters, allowing 9 hits, 3 runs, and 1 walk, with 2 strikeouts, before being relieved by senior Ricky Sandquist.

“He threw the ball very well,” Mangler said, “We didn’t make plays for him defensively, but he was getting hitters to swing the bat, he was throwing strikes and keeping the ball in the zone well. If we had made plays for him, he would have had a great outing.”

The Glenwood, Iowa, native has started 33 games as a hitter, the fourth most starts for a Hawkeye batter this season. He’s crossed home plate 19 times on 33 hits this season, while accounting for 17 RBIs.

He only went to bat during the April 26 contest during this past weekend’s series, where he went 0-for-5 but reached base twice on walks. Both of his opportunities on base led to runs. Dahm said the Hawkeyes have asked a lot from Kaufman physically and that a rest on April 27 was necessary.

“It’s special anytime you can have a guy that can play in the outfield, be on the mound, and hit the ball for you. It’s an awesome thing,” Mangler said. “The sky’s the limit for Taylor. He’s a great pitcher and a great baseball player overall. He throws strikes, he has numerous pitches that he can throw, and that’s what you really need as a starter.”

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