Baseball drops 4th to Kansas

BY JEFF PAWOLA | APRIL 09, 2009 7:30 AM

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The Iowa baseball team never led in its 9-3 loss to Kansas at Banks Field on Wednesday.

The Hawkeyes (11-17, 2-4) used five pitchers — starter and junior Zach Robertson, senior Nick Erdman, junior Mike Jacobs, sophomore Kevin Lee, and freshman Sean Flanagan. Only Flanagan, who came in to relieve Lee in the ninth inning, did not allow a run. The remaining four gave up at least one run in their first inning of work.

“We had [six] walks today; three of those scored,” Iowa head coach Jack Dahm said. “We got a little sloppy on the mound today compared to what we’ve been doing previously. We got back into giving up too many free bases. When you give up a lot of free bases, they’re going to have some opportunities to score some runs.”

Kansas got things going right away in the top of the first. With the bases loaded, Kansas freshman Zac Elgie hit a two-RBI single to center off Robertson, who gave up two walks in the first inning and lasted only one more frame, accounting for three runs, two earned, and three hits.

Elgie was stranded on base, but he did force home another run after Iowa’s freshman catcher Dallas Burke threw the ball into the outfield trying to catch him stealing second. Kansas sophomore Tony Thompson scored easily from third, making the score 3-0.

Iowa answered in the next two innings by manufacturing two runs — senior first baseman T.J. Cataldo, who finished 2-for-4, drove in Iowa’s run in the first, and senior shortstop Justin Toole got his first and only hit of the series while bringing home Burke in the second.

Erdman replaced Robertson in the third, a move that didn’t seem to bother the Jayhawks. After striking out the first batter, Erdman gave up two hits and a walk, which resulted in one more Kansas run and made the score 4-2.

Iowa chopped Kansas’ lead again to one after a sacrifice fly to deep right field by freshman Chett Zeise brought in designated hitter Nick Brown. The freshman DH went 2-for-4 Wednesday and 5-for-9 in the two-game series.

“We have to find a way to manufacture [runs] a little more,” Dahm said. “The one consistent thing that we’ve noticed … we have a good approach early on in the game, and then all of a sudden, we hit a little bit of a lull in the middle innings, and then we’ll score a little later, although we didn’t do that [Wednesday].”

Neither team scored in the fourth and fifth innings, but Kansas notched another run in the top of the sixth to make the score 5-3. The run came after Dahm pulled Robertson before the start of the sixth inning after three innings of work and replaced him with junior Mike Jacobs.

The Jayhawks put the game out of reach in the top of the eighth when they increased their lead to four after an RBI triple by junior Robby Prince. Prince came home on a sacrifice fly in the following at-bat by Kansas sophomore Brian Heere.

“They’re a good hitting ball club. They’ve got some pretty good hitters on their team,” Toole said. “Our pitchers went out and battled, but we just didn’t get it done.”

Kansas tacked on two more in the top of the ninth.

“[Kansas wasn’t] really doing anything to us, it was ourselves,” Brown said. “It started with pitching [Wednesday], getting the ball up … We had some opportunities to get some runs late, we just didn’t execute.”

Iowa will host Indiana in a three-game set beginning on Friday.

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