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Hickman, hot offense help No. 13 Iowa baseball even Rutgers series

Hawk Central staff
Iowa pitcher Blake Hickman earned his ninth win of the season Friday with a five shutout innings in the No. 13 Hawkeyes’ 10-3 road win at Rutgers. Hickman allowed just two hits and threw 70 pitches.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Junior Blake Hickman threw five shutout innings and the Iowa offense erupted for 10 runs, including a six-run second inning, to send the 13th-ranked Hawkeyes to a 10-3 victory over Rutgers on Friday afternoon at Bainton Field and even the three-game series.

"It all started on the mound with Blake," Iowa head coach Rick Heller said in a team news release. "He gave us a quality start, went five innings to pick up the win. Offensively, we came out locked in. It was a good day all around, we played great defense, too."

The win moves Iowa to 38-13 overall and 19-4 in the Big Ten Conference heading into Saturday's regular-season finale. The Hawkeyes have locked up the second seed for next week's conference tournament in Minneapolis.

Hickman allowed just two hits over his five innings, retiring the Scarlet Knights in order in three of his five frames. The right-hander threw just 70 pitches and had a strikeout and a walk. The victory moves Hickman to 9-1 overall and 7-0 in Big Ten play. The nine wins are the most by a Hawkeye since Tim Gudex reached the total in 2005.

The Hawkeyes' offense got rolling in the second, pounding out eight hits and batting around to jump on Scarlet Knights' pitcher John O'Reilly early. Senior Eric Toole delivered the big blow, lacing a bases-clearing triple — his fourth of the year — into left center, stretching the lead to 5-0.

Every Hawkeye starter had at least one hit in the contest, with five players tallying multi-hit games. Dan Potempa went 3-for-5 with a run and two RBIs, in addition to Toole (2-for-6, three RBIs, two runs), Tyler Peyton (2-for-5, run, RBI), Kris Goodman (2-for-4), and Nick Roscetti (2-for-4, two runs).

"(Our offense) was fantastic after yesterday," Heller said. "Our at-bats were decent, but we didn't get rewarded. We stuck with the plan, lowered our sites a little bit and hit a lot more ground balls and line drives. It was a good confidence booster to break it open and get some runs."

The Hawkeyes go for their ninth straight Big Ten series in as many tries at 10 a.m. Saturday.