Iowa defeats Minnesota, 7-6

BY JACOB SHEYKO | APRIL 21, 2014 5:00 AM

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For six innings, Iowa could not catch a break. Almost every inning, the Hawkeyes got a runner on base, then sent a well-hit ball straight into the glove of a Minnesota defender.

But the bats broke out in the seventh inning, finding gaps and even clearing the fence. When the inning was finished, six Hawkeyes had crossed the plate, giving Iowa its first lead of the game, one it did not lose in its 7-6 win over the Golden Gophers.

“We found a way to win that game,” head coach Rick Heller said. “It helps us out in the standings, and just from a confidence standpoint, it helps to have a couple games like we’ve had. It really builds that confidence, and guys start really believing.”

Hawkeye pitcher Tyler Peyton took the mound for his 10th start of the season Sunday, giving Iowa 6 1/3 innings pitched and allowing 3 earned runs.

His day was cut short in the seventh inning, when Minnesota’s Tony Skjefte singled, driving in one Gopher. After the play, Peyton was taken out due to what Heller referred to as a “sore lat muscle.”

Following his departure, Iowa’s bats came alive. After a Jake Yacinich single scored Iowa’s first run of the game, Dan Potempa took Golden Gopher pitcher Dalton Sawyer deep. The mammoth shot was his second of the season and gave Iowa a 4-3 lead.

“It was great to see [the hits] drop,” Potempa said. “It’s also great to see line drives. If they’re caught, they’re caught. It’s what happens. It’s baseball.

After Potempa went yard, Iowa tacked on 2 more runs courtesy of a Kris Goodman double and a suicide squeeze that scored catcher Jimmy Frankos.

“We were hitting the ball hard; they just weren’t falling,” Taylor Zeutenhorst said. “[Skjefte] at third made some great plays. It was nice to see some balls fall and get some runs across.”

Potempa gave Iowa another insurance run in the following inning when his double scored Eric Toole.

The Tinley Park, Ill., native finished the day with 2 hits and 4 runs batted in.

Despite the big seventh inning, Iowa didn’t coast to victory. Minnesota scored 3 runs in the ninth inning, and with two outs had the tying runner on second base. But Hawkeye reliever Tyler Radtke closed the door on his 13th pitch of the inning.

The win gives Iowa the series with Minnesota — it won two of the three games. It also moves Iowa’s overall record to 22-15, 7-8 in the Big Ten.

It also gives Iowa the same win total as they had all of last season.

“I really didn’t even think about it,” Heller said. “We just try to win each one and get to the next one. Early in the season, when we set our goals, we set them pretty high, over 35 or so [wins]. Still a possibility; we just have to keep plugging away and take them one at a time.”

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