Baseball Hawks hoping to end eight-game losing streak

BY JEFF PAWOLA | MAY 05, 2009 7:27 AM

After getting swept by Minnesota over the past weekend, the Iowa baseball team returns to Banks Field today to take on Wisconsin-Milwaukee at 6 p.m.

The injury-depleted Hawkeyes (14-30, 3-14) have lost eight-straight games, and they are desperately trying to turn the tide. However, things will continue to be difficult, because Iowa is without several key starters who helped guide the team to an 11-13 start.

“We have a lot of young guys on the field with all the injuries that we’ve experienced,” Iowa head coach Jack Dahm said. “We have a young team, and we need to try to find a way to win games.”

The Hawkeyes are missing players who have been prominent in their starting lineup — including senior shortstop Justin Toole, senior catcher Kody McManis, senior first baseman Kevin Hoef, junior catcher Tyson Blaser, and freshman designated hitter and starting pitcher Nick Brown. They all missed Iowa’s last game, and they have not been in the lineup for the majority of the Hawkeyes’ losing skid.

The losing streak is the Hawkeyes’ second of eight games or more on the season and is one shy of the team’s longest — Dahm’s club lost nine consecutive from April 4-17. In Dahm’s six-year tenure at Iowa, his longest losing streak prior to this season was eight games in 2005. If Iowa drops the next two games, it will be the first time since 2000 the Hawkeyes have lost 10 straight. And they are in jeopardy of not claiming 20 wins for the first time since 2003. In order to avoid remaining in the teens, Iowa will need to win six of its last eight.

“We just need to start playing with more energy and stay focused,” Dahm said. “When you play with energy, you’ll end up playing better.”

Iowa gave up 40 runs over the weekend against the Golden Gophers while plating only 15.

“Obviously, we’re just trying to get a victory and play well,” Toole said. “I didn’t make the trip up to Minnesota, but if you look at the scores, it shows that they didn’t really play that well.”

Not only did the Hawks allow 40 runs, they also committed nine errors, including a season-high seven in the 26-9 loss on May 2. As a result, Dahm wants to focus on fielding and pitching in tonight’s contest with the Panthers.

“We’ve lost our aggressiveness from a pitching standpoint,” he said. “Too many free bases, walks, and errors. We need to cut that down.”

Wisconsin-Milwaukee is heading in an almost complete opposite direction. The Panthers have won 16 of their last 21 and have reached a .500 record at 21-21, 10-6 in the Horizon League. Iowa’s 3-14 record in the Big Ten puts it in last place, one-half game behind Northwestern.

On the mound for Iowa will be sophomore Zach Kenyon, who has an 0-3 record with a 12.41 ERA in four starts.

“[Tonight] will be another learning experience for our young team,” Dahm said.

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