Hawkeyes rebound with 5-3 win over Kansas

BY JACOB SHEYKO | APRIL 09, 2014 5:00 AM

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When Indiana swept the Iowa baseball team this last weekend, Iowa was doomed by inconsistent pitching, a lack of opportunistic hitting, and an overall more talented team in the Hoosiers.

But in its 5-3 win over Kansas, Iowa seemed to wipe the slate clean, playing one of its most complete games against a highly talented Kansas squad.

“Just the overall effort after a weekend we had, a lot of teams would have come out today and laid an egg,” head coach Rick Heller said. “I think we took a big step today in showing up, giving a great effort, playing hard, and finding a way to win.”

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Playing in its fourth game in four days, the Iowa pitching staff was a tad depleted. Because of this, sophomore Blake Hickman took the mound to start for Iowa and lasted 2.1 innings.

The short stint was partially because of Hickman’s struggle with command — he threw 55 pitches, 27 for strikes.

Junior Sasha Kuebel came in for Hickman and gave the Hawkeyes 5.2 innings of work. Kuebel, typically a starter, worked quickly through his innings of work, and his work on the mound versus Kansas was a night and day difference from his last outing, one that lasted just one-third of an inning against Indiana.

In Iowa’s three games against Indiana, the Hawkeyes struggled, stranding runners on base, especially when they were in scoring position.

But against Kansas, the Hawkeye hitters were about as opportunistic as they have been all season long, no one more than Dan Potempa.

Potempa, a transfer from Iowa Central Community College, drove in 4 runs, going 2-for-3 from the plate. The biggest of those hits was a fifth inning double that platecd 2. At the time, it gave the Hawkeyes their first lead of the game, one they did not relinquish.

“I was just thinking outer half, thinking about driving it the other way,” Potempa said. “With that wind blowing out the other way, the ball was really going to drive to right field.”

It wasn’t just Potempa who had success for Iowa at the plate. Instead, for the first time in a while, almost every Hawkeye joined in — seven Hawkeyes collected at least 1 hit, and three of them finished with numerous hits.

“We were really sticking to our at-bat routine, that was key,” Potempa said. “[We] also drove the ball to the opposite field really well … it was key to sit back and see it deep.”

The importance of this game was evident, especially following what Indiana did to Iowa over the weekend. The Hawkeyes won’t get any rest — they’ll play Kansas again today in the second game of the two-game series.

“It is what it is,” Heller said about playing five games in five days. “We don’t have a lot of options. We’ve been mixing a few guys here and there, but the core players are going to play. If we’re going to have a chance to beat these guys, we’re going to have the same type of effort.”

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