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Baseball loses third game against Michigan

BY JEFF PAWOLA | MARCH 30, 2009 7:30 AM

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As the weather cleared in Iowa City, the Iowa baseball team finished its series finale against Michigan with a 7-5 loss following a three-hour snow delay. The loss came in large part to the Hawkeyes’ sloppy play —they committed five errors — and as a result, Iowa (9-12, 1-2) dropped two out of three over the weekend.

Because of the snow, and how it affected the non-covered warning track, a temporary blue construction-like fence was put in place to eliminate the warning track from the field of play, shortening Banks Field anywhere from 14-18 feet.

“It was a little different playing with the dimensions with the snow fence out there,” said Iowa pitcher Wes Freie, who took the loss Sunday and is now 2-2 on the year after pitching 31⁄3 innings, giving up nine hits and five earned runs. “Both teams had to play in the same conditions, but I think we did a pretty good job.”

The shortened field as well as the blue fence had an immediate effect in the bottom of the first. Iowa’s No. 3 hitter and sophomore Kurtis Muller hit a routine fly ball that carried to the right field wall, forcing Michigan’s junior Alan Oaks to make a home-run-saving catch while falling over the wall.

After Iowa’s initial threat, Michigan (16-7, 2-1) scored first, tallying two runs in the top of the third. The runs came courtesy of a lead-off double by senior Kevin Cisco, who was brought home by the Wolverines’ next batter, senior Kenny Fellows, with a single to right. Fellows later scored to make it 2-0 in favor of Michigan.

Iowa answered quickly in the bottom half of the inning, scoring three runs and taking its first and only lead of the game. Senior Justin Toole and sophomore Kurtis Muller scored on softly hit ground ball by senior and starting pitcher Wes Freie. Toole scored from third, and Muller scored from second motoring home on a hit and run.

Freie would be brought home by Iowa’s next batter, senior T.J. Cataldo on a single to right field, giving Iowa a 3-2 lead.

“We hit some balls hard again today,” Iowa head coach Jack Dahm said. “Our guys worked their tails off all weekend.”

The Hawkeyes’ lead was short-lived as Michigan put up three of its own in the top of the fourth with five different Wolverines touching base, giving the Maize and Blue a 5-3 lead.

Iowa answered in the bottom half of the inning, cutting the lead in half when junior Ryan Durant crossed home plate after reaching base on an error.

The scores stayed the same until the top of the eighth, when Michigan scored two runs thanks to two consecutive errors by freshman Mike McQuillan at second base and a throwing error by junior catcher Tyson Blaser.

McQuillan’s first error was a result of throwing outside the reach of first baseman Cataldo. The next batter, Fellows, hit a high pop fly into short center; McQuillan called off the other pursuing infielders and dropped the ball after it hit his glove. One run crossed the plate, and Fellows wound up at second. Fellows then stole third and scored when Blaser threw the ball into the outfield in an attempt to pick him off.

“We made mistakes, and we didn’t handle it well, that’s the bottom line,” Blaser said. “It’s demoralizing, it hurts, especially late in the ball game. Two [errors] back to back, as much as you want to shake that off, it hurts.”

Iowa scored one more in the eighth to cut the lead to two, and that is how the game finished.
The Hawkeyes will be home against Upper Iowa on Tuesday.


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