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Baseball finishes 1-1 in fall ball

BY TRAVIS VARNER | OCTOBER 12, 2009 7:20 AM

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The Iowa baseball team loves ninth-inning drama.

Similar to its Oct. 4 fall-ball victory over Des Moines Area Community College, Iowa had runners in scoring position in the bottom of the ninth. This time, the Hawkeyes couldn’t muster any late-game heroics, losing to Iowa Central, 6-5, in Banks Field on Oct. 9.

Iowa had runners on second and third with two outs. The circumstances created a tension that heated up the night, and the bitter-cold air seemed to be absent from the diamond at the time.

Iowa sophomore shortstop Andrew Host walked up to the plate to face Iowa Central’s closer.

Host crushed a high fastball but was on top of it. Consequently, the ball skipped across the grass and went straight into the mitt of the Iowa Central shortstop.

An easy throw to first ended Iowa’s hopes.

Despite the defeat, Iowa head coach Jack Dahm said he was pleased with his players’ performances. He preached better defense and said the Hawkeyes responded by completing an error-less game.

However, he said, he wished the team hadn’t allowed three runs in both the first and eighth innings.

“We did a lot of good things,” Dahm said. “I feel like we played better in some ways than [Oct. 4], but … pretty tough to overcome two big innings. One of our goals is to never give up three or more runs in an inning, and we did it twice.”

Iowa seemed sound on the diamond for the majority of the game. The Hawkeye pitchers threw strikes, and hitters created opportunities. The Hawkeyes led, 5-3, entering the top of the eighth.

Senior pitcher Zach Robertson got into trouble early in the inning, allowing runners on first and second without an out. But after two-straight strikeouts by the right-hander, Iowa appeared ready to escape.

Instead, Robertson grooved a fastball to Iowa Central lefty Ryan Keele, who promptly smashed the baseball over the 375 mark in right-center field.

Robertson, a former Iowa Central player, said he was forced to throw a meatball because he fell behind in the count.

“I didn’t want to put the tying run on second base with a walk,” Robertson said. “We were going fastball there, and it just happened to get hit out of the park. Just goes to show that one pitch can change the ball game.”

Although Robertson stumbled, the Iowa pitchers were effective throughout the night. The Hawkeye hurlers struck out 11 and only gave up two walks. Freshman left-hander Matt Dermody led the team with three punch-outs and did not allow a run in two innings of work.

Dermody, a Pittsburgh Pirate draft pick this year, said he’s glad he chose to come to Iowa.
He’s also thankful for his curve ball.

“I love it. I like the atmosphere. I like the team and everything about it,” Dermody said. “My curve has really been improving, so I think that was my strong point. I had a lot of control and a lot of command.”

The Hawkeyes commanded the plate from the batter’s box as well, smashing 12 hits.

Sophomore catcher Dallas Burke, who went 3-for-4 with an RBI single and double, said the team as a whole is improving its swing, stance, and strategy. He said he thinks the team is on the rise and is hopeful for the upcoming 2010 season.

“You just got to go up there and believe in the stuff you worked on at practice,” Burke said. “We’re going to be in a lot of close games this season.”


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