Baseball hosts South Dakota State

BY J.T. BUGOS | MARCH 30, 2010 7:30 AM

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Aided by its first series sweep since May 2007, the Iowa baseball team will ride a four-game winning streak into a two-game home stand with South Dakota State beginning today.

The Hawkeyes had dropped their previous nine contests before winning at Texas-Pan American, 10-3, on March 20.

“This weekend [against Western Illinois], we figured out that one: We can come back and beat a team. And then we figured out that we can come out the next day and beat up on a team,” junior shortstop Kurt Lee said. “So the best of both worlds. And it’s nice to carry a sweep and a winning streak into another team.”

Although the Hawkeyes’ three-game set with Western Illinois provided a confidence boost with close wins and an offensive eruption, head coach Jack Dahm is still looking for more from his squad.
South Dakota State didn’t play this past weekend, and Dahm said Iowa will see the Jackrabbits’ best pitching duo during the short series.

“We’re still a very young team, and the thing we’re going to have to learn how to do is give the type of effort that we gave this weekend every day,” the seventh-year head coach said.

Iowa counters South Dakota State’s top two throwers with two southpaw hurlers — freshman Matt Dermody today and senior Zach Robertson on Wednesday.

Dahm said he’s excited about his two midweek starters, noting Dermody is immensely talented and Robertson is experienced and has produced quality innings this year.

“We’re in a lot better situation from a pitching standpoint for our midweek games than we ever have been,” Dahm said. “So hopefully, those guys can go out there and give us some quality starts, which will take some pressure off of our bullpen. We’re sitting as good as we can be for two midweek games from a pitching standpoint.”

But even with his pitching staff operating at an optimum level, Dahm isn’t going to chalk up two Hawkeye wins. He said he respects the South Dakota State program and its young head coach, Ritchie Price.

Junior center fielder Kurtis Muller had similar opinions.

“They aren’t going to come here and lay over for us,” he said. “So we have to play our ‘A’ game and come out shooting.”

The Hawkeyes will try to keep their momentum rolling. With just one off day between games following a monthlong road trip, Iowa will play in the comfortable confines of Banks Field for the second-straight series.

Lee said he and his teammates take games personally when they step onto their home grass. But Dahm doesn’t want his team to relax in its own stadium.

Instead, he wants Iowa to keep a hungry edge.

“We need to have that fire in our belly that we take care of business at home,” he said. “Protect your home turf and get better every day. I thought we played with a little more focus and a little more intensity. We were playing to win instead of just trying to win, so hopefully, we can carry that into the South Dakota State series.”

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