The last three weeks have been a struggle to find offense for the Iowa baseball team.
Not on Wednesday.
The Hawkeyes recorded big innings in the second and third en route to a 12-7 win over Kansas on Wednesday at Duane Banks Field. Coach Rick Heller’s squad hadn’t scored more than three runs in four games, and Wednesday’s run total was the most since an 8-3 win over Nebraska on March 23.
“We’ve been going through one of those slumps where it seems like every hard-hit ball is right at somebody, but today that didn’t happen,” Heller said. “If we keep making solid contact, good things are going to happen.”
Iowa (18-12) recorded five runs in the second, three in the third — all with two outs — two in the seventh, and two in the eighth, collecting a season-high 18 hits. Eric Toole started the scoring with a 2-run single in the second, followed a couple pitches later by a 2-run single from Jake Mangler. Ten Hawkeyes came to the plate in the frame. Toole and Mangler struck again in the third, Toole another 2-RBI single and Mangler another double, this time bringing in one run.
Toole finished 4-for-5 with 5 RBIs, and he is now second in the Big Ten in hits with 42. Mangler was 2-for-5 with 3 RBIs. Additionally, Jake Yacinich went 4-for-5, and Kris Goodman added a 2-for-3 day with two runs scored.
It was the 14th time this season Iowa posted 10 or more hits in a contest, and the seventh time with 10 or more runs, an encouraging output after signs of a sputtering offense with 15 conference and seven non-conference games remaining this spring.
“Everyone in the lineup had at least one quality at-bat,” Toole said. “That’s big for us, because if we’re not doing our job, if we’re not getting the runner over, if we’re not getting clutch two-out hits, we’re going to be in trouble.”
Kansas (21-13) produced a steady dose of offense as well, tallying seven runs on 15 hits. But it was not enough.
Jake Rienhardt (1-1) pitched two innings of relief for the win, allowing just a run on three hits to limit the Jayhawks’ dent on the box score. Starter Andrew Hedrick allowed four runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Heller noted the importance of midweek victories.
“This is what we need to do. You need to take care of business in the midweek,” he said. “If you want to ever have a chance to have an at-large bid (in the NCAA Tournament), you’ve got to win your midweek games.”
Iowa is in the midst of an unusual stretch. After losing a three-game sweep to Indiana over the weekend, the Hawkeyes are now winners of two straight over Kansas. They conclude a string of eight games in nine days with a three-game set at Northwestern (5-22) beginning Friday.
It’s a good opportunity for Iowa to increase its position in the Big Ten standings, especially after a two-game sweep of Kansas.
“You get swept by Indiana, and it’s not fun,” Heller said. “But they wiped it away and went to work.”