CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Junior Keith Brand’s two-run double in the eighth inning lifted the University of Iowa baseball team to a 4-2 victory over Texas A&M Corpus Christi in the Kleberg Bank College Classic finale on Sunday afternoon.
The Hawkeyes loaded the bases without a hit in the top of the eighth with a pair of walks and on a fielder’s choice. With one out, Brand laced a two-run double to right field, plating sophomores Jake Mangler and Jake Yacinich to give Iowa a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
“He’s a battler,” said UI head coach Jack Dahm of Brand. “You know you’re going to get a quality at-bat from Keith when he’s up there. He had three at-bats, hit every ball hard, and the one that fell was with the bases loaded, so it was a clutch hit.”
Senior Ricky Sandquist (1-0) earned the win on the mound, throwing three innings of relief, allowing one run on one hit with one strikeout. Senior Andrew Hanse tossed a perfect ninth inning to earn his first save of the season.
“Ricky had a tremendous day and really settled in,” said Dahm. “He had an error that cost him, but he was able to calm himself down, get refocused and pitch great the rest of the game.”
Freshman Calvin Mathews was strong for Iowa in his second career start, allowing one run on five hits over five innings. He had one strikeout to a pair of walks while tossing 91 pitches.
“Our pitching staff has done a great job,” said Dahm. “We had a couple of defensive blunders today, but they haven’t allowed it to turn into a big inning.”
Junior Taylor Kaufman led Iowa at the plate, going 2-for-3 to record his second multi-hit game of the season. Brand was 1-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored, while sophomore Kris Goodman went 1-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to five games.
“We showed some grit this weekend the last two days,” said Dahm. “We played some really good baseball and found a way to win. It was a good, positive growing weekend.”
The Islanders took the early lead, plating the game’s first run in their opening at-bat. After loading the bases with a pair of singles and a walk, Eric Weiss reached on a fielder’s choice, allowing Cody Stephens to score the first run.
Iowa tied the game in the top of the second inning courtesy of an RBI double by sophomore Nick Day. Kaufman and freshman Blake Hickman both had singles in the inning before Day’s double plated Brand to even the tally at one.
Iowa took its first lead in the fifth with a two-out rally. Sophomore Eric Toole singled to left field to start things off before swiping second to move into scoring position. Goodman then reached on a throwing error, and Toole scored from second in the process, making the score 2-1.
Texas A&M Corpus Christi took advantage of a walk and an Iowa miscue to plate the tying run in the bottom of the sixth. Brad Lamberti walked to open the inning before moving up two bases on a throwing error by Sandquist. He then crossed the plate on a fielder’s choice groundout off the bat of Zach Taylor.
Three Hawkeyes — Kaufman, Goodman and sophomore Sasha Kuebel — were named to the Kleberg Bank College Classic All-Tournament team. Kaufman hit .545 with six hits and two RBIs, Goodman had six hits and an RBI, and Kuebel limited Oklahoma to two runs on eight hits over eight innings in the opener.
Iowa (3-3) returns to action March 1 at the Millard Management Jayhawk Classic in Lawrence, Kan., facing Eastern Michigan at 11 a.m. (CT).