Baseball tries to halt losing streak

BY JEFF PAWOLA | APRIL 10, 2009 7:30 AM

The Iowa baseball team (11-17, 2-4) will try to snap a season long four-game losing streak today against Indiana (13-17, 3-2) at Banks Field. Today’s first contest will begin at 6 p.m., with both weekend games starting at 1:30 p.m. The Saturday and April 12 games will be televised by the Big Ten Network.

Iowa sits in 10th place in the Big Ten after dropping two of three in each of its opening series, against Michigan and Purdue. Indiana is in a three-way tie for second with Minnesota and Purdue.

“Our players need to work on what they’ve been struggling at. Bottom line is we have to believe in what we’ve been doing. Right now is not the time for us to go back to the drawing board and change things up,” Iowa head coach Jack Dahm said. “We have to become a consistently good defensive team.”

Iowa committed only one error in Wednesday’s 9-3 loss to Kansas; however, its season average is 1.71 errors per game, 48 total. The Hawkeyes have only completed five games without committing an error — the last coming on April 4 in a loss to the Boilermakers — and also have committed four errors or more in a single game on four different occasions — most recently on Tuesday in a 5-4 loss to Kansas.

Another issue for the Hawkeyes has been their run production during the middle innings. On the year, Iowa has scored its least number of runs during innings four through six. Iowa has scored only 46 runs in the middle innings — 1.64 per game — compared with 84 runs in innings one through three — three per game — and 58 runs in the final three innings – 2.07 per game.

“Our energy level needs to be there for all nine innings,” junior pitcher Zach Robertson said. “Our run production from the beginning of the game to end of the game is great, but then you look at our middle innings and we aren’t getting that run production.

“You talk about lack of focus, and we just need to be in it for all nine innings.”

One of Iowa’s bright spots as of late has been designated hitter, pitcher, and freshman Nick Brown. Brown stepped in for senior designated hitter Wes Freie, who was suspended from the Kansas series for violating team rules, by going 5-for-9 over the two days and driving in three runs in his first two starts.

“You’re going to continue to see more and more of Nick from an offensive standpoint,” Dahm said. “He’s earned himself more at-bats and done a very good job.”

Brown will be tonight’s starting pitcher for Iowa. Making his sixth start of the year, he has a 2-1 record with a 5.70 ERA, and the last time Brown was on the mound was the last time the Hawkeyes came away victorious. Against Purdue on April 3, the freshman earned his first Big Ten win of his career, lasting 5 1/3 innings and giving up four runs and eight hits while striking out four.

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