June 2013

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An All-Big Ten Brother Duo E By James Allan verything is a competition for University of Iowa baseball sophomore Eric Toole and his older brother and former Hawkeye Justin Toole. The younger Toole finally has bragging rights. During Big Ten play, Eric ranked second in the conference with a .412 batting average, while leading the league in on-base percentage (.486), being fourth in hits (40), sixth in runs (21) and 11th in total bases (46). Eric earned his first career All-Big Ten honor in 2013, being selected as a second-team performer. Justin, who played for Iowa from 2006-09, was a three-time thirdteam All-Big Ten honoree. He came on strong over the final 15 games, posting seven of his 15 multi-hit games and hitting .467 (28-of60) with 11 runs, four RBIs and a .536 on-base percentage during the stretch. "He's really proud of me for making the second team," said Eric of his older sibling. "I told him, 'I one-upped you for once.' It's a bragging right for me, but he told me to stay at it and keep it going." "I was more patient the last 15 games of the year," said Eric. "I was seeing my pitch, and I knew what I wanted to do with it. I was trying to help my team and get on base and do thinks that a leadoff hitter normally does. The Toole brothers are the first brother tandem in school history to earn All-Big Ten honors. "It started with getting the pitches I wanted and swinging at them. I just kept swinging and it worked out for me in the end." "That says a lot about how much my brother worked when he was here," said Eric. "He wasn't really playing his freshman year and then to earn three All-Big Ten honors was something else." Justin was Eric's role model growing up. Justin was six-and-a-half years older, so he was instrumental in teaching Eric the art of baseball. "He was a gamer, and I lived off him," said Eric. "He taught me the game when I was little, and we always joke with each other about who is the better hitter and fielder. The competition between us has pushed us to be the best that we can be. "Even though we didn't play with each other, having a chance to be together really helped us out a lot." Eric started 45 games for Iowa in center field as a sophomore, finishing with a team-best .337 batting average. He also paced the team in hits (59), runs (32), total bases (67) and sacrifice bunts (nine), while ranking second in slugging percentage (.338), on-base percentage (.426) and doubles (six). In his last game of the season, Eric matched a pair of school records, finishing 5-for-5 with five singles in a 9-5 win at Purdue on May 17. He tied his brother's record of five singles, and became the 15th Hawkeye to have five hits in a single contest. "The guys in the dugout were talking about (the record) and some of them knew about my brother's record," said Eric. "They were joking around, saying I wouldn't get it, but luckily I got it past the pitcher and got a ground ball in the infield to get my fifth hit." The following day, Eric received a congratulatory phone call from Justin, who is currently playing ball for the Akron Aeros, the Double-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. "He said he knew I could do it," said Eric. "He was glad that it was me that tied him. He was happier about it rather than bitter." Justin was happy because little brother is carrying on the Toole tradition. 9

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