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Iowa looks to sweep fall baseball games

BY TRAVIS VARNER | OCTOBER 09, 2009 7:20 AM

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The Iowa baseball team will try to finish 2-0 in its fall exhibition season when the Hawkeyes host Iowa Central at Banks Field at 6 p.m. today.

Relying on a riveting walk-off single to beat Des Moines Area Community College on Sunday, the Hawkeyes hope to seal tonight’s game a little sooner.

Iowa head coach Jack Dahm said a win like the one five days ago is always going to create unparalleled positive energy for ball clubs. The important thing, he said, is keeping that emotional high throughout the Hawkeyes’ game against Iowa Central, regardless of its exhibition status.

“I think the guys had good energy the last couple of days,” Dahm said. “I think that was a positive win for our players. The guys are excited to play outside competition.”

Although victorious against the Des Moines team, the Hawkeyes reverted to a few bad habits that crippled them last year. Iowa led the Big Ten in errors last season; the Hawks committed three again on Sunday.

Dahm said better decisions on the defensive end is necessary to protect the team’s pitchers. He wants to avoid high pitch counts during the exhibition season and hopes his Hawkeyes field better today after quality practices all week.

“I think we need to make some better decisions from a defensive standpoint,” he said. “A couple of them were due to guys playing new positions they haven’t played before … just continuing to get a little more comfortable from a defensive standpoint and anticipating what we are going to do with the baseball.”

The Hawkeyes are coming off a solid showing in the batter’s box, batting in five runs on 11 hits against the Des Moines school.

Despite the double-digit team hitting performance, the Hawkeyes seemed a little anxious at the plate. Iowa hitters swung at balls slightly out of the zone.

Junior outfielder Kurtis Muller said he was happy with the victory last weekend, but the team can improve in getting quality at-bats.

“You’ve just got to pick your spots when you want to be aggressive and when you want to take a few pitches to see what [an opposing pitcher] has,” he said. Dahm said he thinks the mistakes made by Iowa during the first fall game may be due to unfamiliarity with the increased game speed. Before Sunday, Iowa hadn’t played competitively as a team since mid-May.

The sixth-year head coach said play would be better today because practices have been intense. He said many positions are up for grabs, and it’s up to individuals to make their cases for a starting spot known.

“We have so much internal competition right now, especially when looking at defensive positions,” Dahm said. “All the positions are wide open. It has created a sense of urgency in practice, and I think we will be ready to go when it comes [today].”

Iowa’s probable starting pitcher Nick Brown said fall practices have been successful. Annually, new freshmen come in to compete but sometimes fail to live up to expectations.

This fall has been great for the incoming freshmen so far, the sophomore said.

“There’s always hype coming in and you never know what you might get,” Brown said. “They all came in and done their part and they’ve adjusted to the game pretty quick.”


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