McQuillan rebounds from benching

BY J.T. BUGOS | MARCH 31, 2010 7:30 AM

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Iowa sophomore Mike McQuillan stroked three base hits in his first three at-bats on Tuesday to effectively respond from his benching on March 28 against Western Illinois.

The second baseman called it a learning experience and said it won’t happen again.

“I deserved it,” he said. “It’s part of the game. You have to know how many outs there are. You have to be able to be active on the field, and in order to be successful, you have to be on the field. So it was just a mental mistake, and I deserved what I got.”

After he singled to center in the bottom of the second inning that game, he lost track of how many outs there were. Trevor Willis came to the plate with two outs and hit a fly ball to left.

McQuillan didn’t keep running around second base, and Iowa head coach Jack Dahm pulled him from the game.

“It’s one of those things that we talk about to our players is being in the game all the time, and Mike had a mental lapse there,” Dahm said after the Hawkeyes beat Western Illinois, 11-2. “If we’re going to get to where we want to be, we can’t have those mental breakdowns. Unfortunately, he had a mental lapse, and we had to make him accountable.”

Dahm was happy with the way his young infielder responded, though, and he will look for him to cut down on lapses between the chalk lines in the future.

“The good thing about Mike is he knows when he makes a mistake, and he handles things very well when he makes a mistake or he’s struggling,” the seven-year head coach said. “He just goes right back to work. I love his mentality. We need him to limit those mental mistakes, and part of that is going to be maturing as a player and gaining some very valuable experience.”

McQuillan said he accepted blame and moved on. The benching didn’t weigh on his mind in Iowa’s first game against South Dakota State, he said, and Dahm said he didn’t think about the incident, either.

Instead, McQuillan was happy to finally be healthy after an ankle injury that limited him in recent weeks.

McQuillan said he went back to the fundamentals in his offensive approach after not performing the way he did at the beginning of the season.

“I’m able to go through my routine the right way,” the Evergreen Park, Ill., native said. “I’m able to prepare better and don’t have to hold back so I’m not in pain. It’s been five or six games I haven’t been healthy, and it’s good to be healthy again.”

McQuillan said he believes the Hawkeyes have an extremely talented offensive team — on display on Tuesday with a pair of three-hit games from Chett Zeise and Phil Keppler, as well as a home run from Ryan Durant — and they should be able to put up double-digit run production every time the squad steps onto the diamond.

Dahm said he sees McQuillan as an integral part of Iowa’s offensive attack, noting he’s one of the best players in the Big Ten and is looking for him to settle into the 2 or 3 spot in the order.

“He’s one of our best offensive players, so he needs to be at the top of the order,” Dahm said. “We need to get him as many at-bats as we can. I just moved him down that one game to try to get him going again and take a little pressure off him. He responded very well.

“He’s a talented player, and in order to have some success and score runs, we need Mike to be swinging the bat well.”

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