PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Sophomore Sasha Kuebel pitched seven strong innings and the University of Iowa baseball team’s offense erupted for nine runs in a 9-2 triumph over Maine in its Snowbird Classic opener.
Kuebel (1-3) allowed eight hits and two runs over seven innings en route to his first victory of the season. The left-hander had four strikeouts to two walks. Freshman Josh Martsching closed out the victory, allowing one hit and striking out three over the final two innings.
“Sasha didn’t have his best stuff, but he made some big pitches when he needed to in some key situations,” said UI head coach Jack Dahm. “He really settled in. They had a couple of key situations where we turned two big double plays and Sasha made the big pitches when he needed to.”
The Hawkeyes used two big innings to propel the team to the win, scoring three runs in the fourth and six in the sixth.
Junior Keith Brand opened the fourth with a single before freshman Blake Hickman and senior Dan Sheppard followed with two-out singles to load the bases. Brand crossed the plate on a Black Bear balk before sophomore Kris Goodman’s RBI infield single plated the second run. Sheppard also crossed the plate on the play via a Maine throwing error.
“We came up with some big hits,” said Dahm. “The good thing is once we got the lead we kept the pressure on them. That’s important for our guys to learn. We executed from an offensive stand point and that led to us scoring nine runs.”
In the sixth, Iowa scored six runs on four hits in the inning. Hickman led off the frame with a double down the left field line before junior Taylor Zeutenhorst and Goodman followed with a walk and single to load the bases. Hickman made the score 4-0 when sophomore Jake Mangler was hit by a pitch.
Sophomore Jake Yacinich followed with a two-run single through the left side to chase Maine starter Tommy Lawrence from the game. After loading the bases a second time, Iowa plated three more runs via a fielder’s choice, a throwing error and an RBI single by freshman Jimmy Frankos — his first career hit.
The Hawkeyes pounded out 11 hits in the game and four players — Goodman, Mangler, Brand and Hickman — all had two-hit games. Goodman was 2-for-5 with an RBI and run scored, Mangler was 2-for-4 with an RBI, Brand was 2-for-2 with two runs and Hickman was 2-for-4 with two runs.
“Brand had an outstanding day, two hits and three hit by pitches,” said Dahm. “We were down a couple of guys — Eric Toole was sick — and we had a little different lineup in there today. The guys battled and found a way to get it done.”
Iowa (5-6) returns to action Saturday, facing Georgetown at 2 p.m. (CT).