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Baseball rides pitching into Wisconsin-Milwaukee contest

BY J.T. BUGOS | APRIL 13, 2010 7:30 AM

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Nick Brown and Phil Schreiber both tossed eight-inning masterpieces over the weekend against Illinois, and the Iowa baseball team will try to carry some momentum into its game with Wisconsin-Milwaukee tonight.

Brown allowed three earned runs and six hits over eight innings in a 6-4 win, and Schreiber scattered five hits and gave up just one earned run over eight frames in a 4-2 victory.

Iowa pitching coach Chris Maliszewski said Brown’s success came from getting ahead in the count and using his slider to finish off batters. Schreiber’s strong performance came from abandoning his secondary pitches, the coach said.

Schreiber totaled 99 pitches, 91 of which were fastballs.

“We’ve been working on a two-seamer, but for Phil, he’s a guy who’s able to pitch off his fastball because his velocity is above average,” Maliszewski said. “When your velocity is above average at this level, if you can command it, you’re going to have success, and that’s what he was able to do.”

Maliszewski said he doesn’t think pressure will be added to other starters when they follow great performances. He tells his hurlers, “pressure is perceived.” Instead, it should create friendly competition.

But Zach Robertson takes the mound for Iowa tonight looking to one-up his teammates.

Robertson proved he’s capable of pitching like a staff ace in his last start against South Dakota State, going seven innings, allowing one earned run, and striking out 10.

“We don’t really need great starts,” he said. “As a pitcher, you just need to know what it takes to keep your team in a ball game. As long as I can do that, I think I’ll be fine with the way I pitch.”

Iowa head coach Jack Dahm said pitching can be contagious, and he’s looking for Brown and Schreiber to rub off on Robertson. The southpaw will be on a strict pitch count, though.

“We think it’s very important that we have Zach available this coming weekend against Indiana because they have two of the best left-handed hitters in the Big Ten,” Dahm said. “We’re going to limit him to about 60-70 pitches, so that way he’ll be available on Saturday and Sunday for us.”

For Robertson to be successful in his limited time on the mound, Maliszewski said the senior must throw his fastball, changeup, and slider for strikes in any count.

The coach said Robertson may have the best three-pitch repertoire on the staff, and his off-speed pitches will keep hitters off balance when located well.

Restricting Robertson will also allow Hawkeye relievers to toe the rubber; only closer Kevin Lee picked up work in the last two games. Dahm said freshman Matt Dermody will throw a few innings to further his development, and Patrick Schatz, Michael Jacobs, and Zach Kenyon will also toss a few frames.

Robertson has had a long layoff between games. His last outing was a seven-inning gem against South Dakota State on March 31.

But he said he doesn’t feel rusty.

“I want to be able to keep this win streak going,” the Des Moines native said. “We need to keep building confidence that we can take into Big Ten play. So I just want to keep us right there and keep us on that winning side of things.”

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