Spartans sweep Hawkeye baseball team

BY RYAN YOUNG | APRIL 27, 2009 7:27 AM

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The postseason aspirations that once seemed feasible for the Iowa baseball team at the beginning of the season are now becoming dim.

The Hawkeyes dropped their third-straight game to fellow conference cellar dweller Michigan State, 14-5, at Banks Field on Sunday.

Having not yet won a Big Ten series this season, the loss puts Iowa at 14-25 overall, 3-11 in conference. The only time the Hawkeyes were swept this season was against Indiana earlier in April.

Yet even with Iowa appearing to be a dark horse in the race for the Big Ten Tournament, head coach Jack Dahm is resisting the urge to panic.

“We can’t even worry about the Big Ten Tournament or anything else,” the sixth-year Iowa coach said. “That’s one of the problems. We always start looking at ‘Oh, what do we have to do to make the Big Ten Tournament?’ Heck, just go out and play good baseball.

“We’re not winning enough right now, well, that’s because we’re not playing the right way.”

In the top of the first, Michigan State took advantage of a walk and a wild pitch by Iowa starting pitcher Zach Robertson to seize the lead early at 1-0 following a sacrifice fly.

The Hawkeyes countered quickly with a run of their own in the bottom of the frame. Freshman catcher Dallas Burke scored on fielder’s choice by junior Ryan Durant.

Iowa tacked on two more runs in the second inning on a two-out home run by freshman outfielder Sean Flanagan.

But for the next four innings, the Michigan State offense effectively put the game out of reach as the Hawkeyes failed capitalize at the plate with runners in scoring position.

“We have to take advantage of our opportunities,” Burke said. “In all phases, we just weren’t really locked in at all times.”

The Spartans reclaimed the lead in the top of the third, though, going up 5-3. Designated hitter Johnny Lee plated three runs on double to right-center field and was later brought in on a sacrifice fly.

In the top of the fourth, Robertson walked the bases loaded and surrendered a grand slam to Michigan State catcher Eric Roof. The Spartans then added their 10th run in the fifth and record three more in the seventh for a 13-3 lead.

Iowa tallied back-to-back runs in the seventh and eighth but went quietly in the ninth to close out the loss before hosting a kids clinic after the game.

“It’s hard,” freshman second baseman Mike McQuillan said of the sweep following a three-game winning streak. “But we come to the park the same day. It’s not like we’re coming here depressed. We’re just not getting the job done.”

The Hawks will meet Northern Iowa in the Corridor Classic in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday.

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