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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Miguel Sano homered and drew the third bases-loaded walk for Minnesota during a dreadful seventh inning for Kansas City’s bullpen as Ervin Santana and the Twins beat the Royals 7-1 on Monday for their first opening victory in nine years. Santana (1-0) gave up just two hits and two walks while striking out three over seven innings, aided by two diving catches of sinking line drives by center fielder Byron Buxton that highlighted a stellar afternoon of defense by the Twins. Mike Moustakas homered leading off the fourth for the Royals, but Sano responded in the bottom of the inning with a tying 425-foot drive into the second deck off Danny Duffy. After signing a $65 million, five-year contract to assume the role as the ace of the rotation, Duffy’s first career opening day start was a dazzler with eight strikeouts over six innings with three hits and three walks allowed.
IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa’s pitching staff has gotten healthy and the wins have followed. The Hawkeyes have won six straight games to improve to 17-9 heading into Tuesday’s start of a two game series against South Dakota State. Junior ace Nick Gallagher has given the Hawkeyes 12 scoreless innings of work in his last two starts since returning to the rotation. Sophomore Zach Daniels picked up two more wins out of the bullpen last week to move his season record to 6-1. Mason City native Ryan Erickson has been in the weekend starting rotation. He’s thrown 24 innings, sporting an 0-1 record and an even 3.00 ERA. After the South Dakota State games, Iowa travels to Northwestern for a weekend Big Ten series Friday through Sunday.
MASON CITY — A familiar face will be on the bench for the NIACC women’s basketball team starting next fall. The Lady Trojans announced on Monday that former Mason City High and Drake University player Cortni Rush (pictured) has been named as an assistant coach with the program. Rush played at NIACC in the 2013-14 season and helped lead the Lady Trojans to a third-place finish at the national tournament. After her one season at NIACC, Rush played three seasons at Drake, which was capped off with a trip to the NCAA tournament in her just-completed senior season.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Karl-Anthony Towns had 34 points and 12 rebounds and the Minnesota Timberwolves snapped Portland’s six-game winning streak with a 110-109 victory over the Trail Blazers on Monday night. Andrew Wiggins scored 29 points and Ricky Rubio had 11 points, 16 assists and seven rebounds for the Timberwolves, who bounced back from an ugly home loss to Sacramento that eliminated them from postseason contention on Saturday. Damian Lillard scored 25 points for Portland, but had a rough shooting night. He made just 7 of 21 shots, including 3 of 11 3-pointers, and his potential game-winning pull-up jumper at the buzzer glanced off the rim. The Blazers lead Denver by 1 1/2 games in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
AMES — Iowa State coach Matt Campbell likes the progress as the Cyclones enter the final week of spring football. ISU is coming off its second scrimmage over the weekend. This is Campbell’s second spring as coach and he says the mentality has been much different this year. Campbell says that work ethic will show up when the game is on the line. Campbell is confident the Cyclones have the talent and the work ethic to improve upon last year’s 3-9 record. Campbell says the coaches have been looking for consistency in practice. Iowa State’s spring game is Saturday.
IOWA CITY — Iowa linebacker coach Seth Wallace says his focus this spring has been on improvement and building depth. All three starting linebackers, Josey Jewel, Bob Bower and Ben Niemann, return for the Hawkeyes in what is one of their most veteran groups.Wallace says the changes in the Iowa offense have provided a good challenge for the linebackers. Wallace says a key wail be getting some of younger players ready in case they are needed next season. Iowa’s spring game is April 21.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) – The Minnesota Vikings have signed quarterback Case Keenum, acquiring the experienced backup sought for starter Sam Bradford with the unlikelihood that the rehabilitating Teddy Bridgewater will be ready to play this season. Keenum started nine games in 2016 for the Los Angeles Rams, before they turned to rookie Jared Goff. He had nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions, while completing 60.9 percent of his passes for 2,201 yards. Keenum is 9-15 in 24 NFL starts. After a standout college career with Houston, he turned pro in the same city in 2012 and spent three years with the Texans. Shaun Hill backed up Bridgewater in 2015 and Bradford in 2016, but he was not retained after becoming a free agent.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) – The Minnesota Vikings have signed punter Ryan Quigley, creating offseason competition for the specialist role held by Jeff Locke for the past four years. Quigley has appeared in 51 games, with a net average of 38.9 yards per punt. He struggled in six games in the middle of last season for the Arizona Cardinals before being let go. Prior to that, he spent three years with the New York Jets. He was in training camp with the Chicago Bears as a rookie in 2012 after going undrafted out of Boston College. Quigley will contend for the job with Taylor Symmank, who was in rookie minicamp with the Vikings last year but didn’t make the team. Locke signed with the Indianapolis Colts.
MARION — The NIACC men’s golf team finished eighth out of the 11-team field at the Eagle Spring Classic at Hunters Ridge in Marion Sunday and Monday. The Trojans top squad finished with a two-day total of 645. Indian Hills won the tournament with a score of 571, with Bethany Missouri finishing second with 602. Sophomore Zach Nicholson led the Trojans with a two-day total of 157, with fellow sophomore Joe Nordquist shooting a 161. NIACC’s “B” team finished with a total of 672.